Book Review: Power by C.S. Alleyne
This review does have some very slight spoilers and mention of sexual assault so please proceed with caution. As always, this review is simply my opinion and my opinion alone, you're welcome to disagree. Stay safe and look after yourself :)
'Power' is a horror novella by C.S. Alleyne that follows the story of Maude, who is utterly powerless as a lower-class woman in the midst of a corrupt Victorian England. However, after a traumatic event, she is given a chance at revenge and the power she craves.
Right off the bat, I really ended this book. I think it raises some very insightful exploration into abuse of power in regards to class and gender which is expressed perfectly in the Victorian England backdrop. I also really enjoyed the featuring of freak shows and victorian medicine that gave it a great creepy feel. The narrative itself was very intriguing and bold, making it so easy to get sucked in. The moment I picked up the book I wanted to keep reading. The pacing was also well-spaced and the tension was tight and well-built, which can be tricky for a story as short as this. I also liked that the narrative wasn't overly focused on the blunt violence Maude experiences but on more on Maude herself and the underlying themes of the story. I also really appreciated the exploration of toxic power which is shown throughout the narrative, especially in regards to gender and class. Maude and her mother are prime examples since they are both lower-class women who are automatically without power the moment they are betrayed or abandoned by the powerful man that they are forced to cling to for safety. Although plenty of characters really sent me into a rage (in a good way) the one that riled me up the most was Arthur. Although he was not the one to attack Maude, he still benefitted from her dismay whilst claiming himself to be her knight in shining armour. This was such a good character to include as it describes the disgusting behaviour of people like this who have the power to end suffering and injustice but choose not to until it directly benefits them. The only thing that irked me was more of a personal pet peeve. I'm rather picky with revenge stories as I find they can easily become over the top (although that wasn't the case here) and sometime focus too much on the act of revenge itself and not the horrid effects trauma has on the victim/survivor, which I think, at times, can accidentally cheapen the trauma. I felt as if 'Power' fell into this trap just a little bit by not giving enough space for Maude's trauma, but then again I think that's down to personal preference. Overall, this is an intense and very entertaining book that I'd definitely recommend for a quick but 'power'ful read.
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Where To Buy 'Power': Amazon
CLAIRE L. SMITH is an Australian author, poet and filmmaker. Her debut gothic horror novella, HELENA is due for release via Clash Books in October 2020.