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Wednesday, 2 November 2016
Review: The Hypnotist
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!
In the dead of night, Pip is plucked from an orphanage and hired as a farm hand. But Pip is black. The farmer and his wife are white. And this is 1960’s America, where race defines you.
Jack Morrow has left his native Ireland dreaming of a new life in the American Deep South. He has certain skills that he mostly keeps hidden. Skills in hypnotism and mind control...
Pip and Jack’s lives become inextricably linked as the heat of racial tension builds to a terrifying storm.”
Part thriller, part love story, this extraordinary debut novel looks at where life can take you when your expectations are great.
I don't usually stray too far from fantasy these days, but I was sent this as a surprise by the publisher along with a couple of other interesting reads, and I was intrigued by the little information on the proof. The proof didn't say much, and I had a vague idea of what I thought might happen but I was completely wrong.
I wasn't entirely sure where the book was going as I started to read, and I will admit that my mind started to wander. I'm used to fast paced and fantasy. But I carried on reading because I wanted to see what was going to happen. You see as I was reading the book has a certain vibe, and an atmosphere that's kind of insidious. I knew something bad was going to happen, I just wasn't sure what or when. I mean, knowing the time period and the location and a certain character....you knew something bad was going to happen. This actually ended a lot happier than I thought it would, I'm not going to lie!
I kinda had this idea that Pip was going to like...be Jack's apprentice, and become a fellow hypnotist but that's so not what happened! Once things got going, I found myself even more engrossed in the story and needing for the very bad things that could have happened to not happen. I enjoyed the dual narrative, split between Pip and Jack, I liked Hannah's songs sprinkled throughout adding to the atmosphere of the book and helping you get to know her and her life.
I don't know how much the average reader knows about this period in history, but we actually studied it at school, and so I'm well aware about the kind of horrifying things that happened then. I mean...not to say things now are all sunshine and rainbows but you know what I mean! The author doesn't hold back with the KKK and the lynchings and so on. You can feel Pip's fear in the scene when the KKK is introduced. You can feel fear a lot as you're reading, from the characters in varying different situations. That sense of fear and oppression permeates the book. I'm not sure what was more horrifying, the burning crosses, the near lynching, the general racism, the explosion or you know...the casual character, educated and rational, who tried to make the KKK sound like some civilised club, with their charity work and whatever else. Genuinely. It was horrifying, not least because I can guarantee that people like that existed then and still do now.
I found myself really rooting for the characters. I could fully understand Jack's fear and his need to return home, and while he probably shouldn't have done what he did because of ethics and whatever, I can't help but be happy that he did do it. He determined to be brave for once, and he did something that saved other people. I wanted Pip to get his great expectations, I wanted him to get everything that he deserved out of life. I wanted Hannah to get to sing. I loved the relationship Pip had with Lilybelle, and even Zach, that moment at the end made me smile! And I loved the romance between Pip and Hannah, it didn't overpower the narrative, but it was a nice addition and I was rooting for the pair of them! I think Jacks narrative was a great addition to the story, I have to say, because you got the point of view of someone experiencing all of this, of being used to it because that's been his whole life, and then you get the contrast of Jack having grown up in Ireland, and now giving an outsiders look at it all. It's a brilliant book, it really is!