Is Seeing Double by Karen Runge a horror novel? Yes, it is.
Is it violent, bordering on splatterpunk? Yes, it is.
Is it a crime novel? Yes, it is.
Is it a romance? Yes, it is.
Is it the type of novel that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it? Absolutely.
I was recommended this novel by another author and book reviewer who likes a lot of the same books I do, so I went into it totally blind. I had no idea what the plot was before I started reading and I was pulled into the world Runge created almost immediately.
When the story begins we are led to believe that Daniel and his wife Ada are just a normal married couple living abroad. There are hints dropped throughout the early part of the novel that this might not be the case, but the hints are subtle and give just enough to keep the story moving forward. Eventually we find out that this normal married couple spend some of their time going to local bars, picking up a stranger there and then bringing them home, drugging then, raping them and mutilating them. Eventually they meet another man who wants to join in on their fun. From there the relationship of the three changes and as love grows in unexpected places this leads to a split in the group.
From there the story takes a weird, strange but not unwelcome turn. The change is foreshadowed perfectly and even a careful reader might miss the first few hints but once the twist is revealed, the reader immediately realizes the hints that were given along the way.
What sets this book apart from highly-violent overly-sexual books I’ve read in the past is the way in which Runge is able to coax feeling and emotion from every scene, including the most violent event in the narrative. In spite of the horrible things our main characters are a part of, I couldn’t help but understand and even feel sorry for each other them at certain points throughout the story. This is a great example of an author using a horrible person (or persons) as the protagonist and making the story work perfectly with them in that role.
The writing itself is beautiful and horrifying at the same. Runge never answers all of the questions that arise as she slips and slides and twists the reader through her narrative, but she doesn’t have to answer all of the questions. She answers enough of them to keep the reader satisfied and leaves just enough open ended to keep you thinking about the book long after you’ve finished it.
This is a solid 4/5 for me. I’ll be looking for more of Runge’s work.
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