Review – These Lifeless Things

Posted March 14, 2022 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of These Lifeless Things by Premee MohamedThese Lifeless Things, Premee Mohamed

Wow, this was unsettling. There’s so little concrete detail, either about Eva’s side of the story or about Emerson’s present — there’s very little that’s concrete beyond the constant fear and horror. Even when there are clear images of the statues, there’s no explanation, no reason for what’s happening. The monsters you can’t quite see, and all the more terrifying for it.

There are little hints in Emerson’s end of the story that something’s still wrong: her paranoia, the ringing in her ears, the nightmares… And we just don’t get to know how Eva’s story ends, what happens between her attempted escape and Emerson’s work trying to find out what happened to her. We just don’t know.

It’s beautifully written, and there’s plenty to keep holding onto even while you don’t know what’s happening — Eva’s feelings for Valentin, and their search through the city for the children, their careful work to survive — so I’m not actually saying that it doesn’t work. But it’s hard to describe and I feel like I’m trying to explain the tatters of a nightmare to someone: it sounds so ordinary, repeating it back, but quite different when you’re in the grips of it.

It was perhaps especially unsettling now, given the setting is Ukraine. The haunted, war-torn streets and the desperation.

I think it’s a worthwhile read; I think others might find it unsatisfying, but I think this feeling is exactly what you’re meant to be left with.

Rating: 4/5

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