Sick: Christa Wojciechowski
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I recently had the pleasure of providing a foreword to a collection called Lost Voices released through The Writing Collective. Within that collection, a number of outstanding stories were featured, but the stories Wojciechowski wrote have stayed with me. I’d never read any of her work, and it was either Joseph Sale or Ross Jeffery (both featured in the same collection) who suggested I start with this.
Sick is a psychological-medical-thriller that had me riveted. Now, don’t get that phrase wrong – this isn’t Michael Crichton ER stuff or Grey’s Anatomy. No, this leans more towards something Tom Six would conjure than Mr. Crichton.
We are introduced to Susan and John. Susan is a nurse, now working at a podiatric clinic. She’s married to John, a chronic sufferer. He’s clumsy, frail and often dealing with medical issues that confound the most experienced of doctor’s. They met when Susan was a nurse treating John. Back then he was the heir to a family fortune, living in a mansion. Now, with his wealth squandered, they’re relegated to living in the guest house, the new mansion owners feeling sorry for the couple’s situation.
This thing hums along. You feel for Susan but also have moments of frustration and anger as you see brief glimpses of John playing his situation up to manipulate her.
I liked how Christa never fully takes her foot off the gas pedal, but also never slams it to the floor until the finale. It builds and builds, intrigue to what is going on growing. As things keep crumbling around Susan, you know somethings about to break, somethings going to crack – and when it does – fantastic stuff.
I highly recommend this for people looking to check out Christa’s work, but also for those who like limited set-piece thrillers. There are minimal characters and minimal locations and Wojciechowski uses that to the utmost.
John Branch is a brilliant-minded aristocrat, bereft of his family’s wealth, ravaged by a terrible and as yet unidentified disease. Susan is a hard-working nurse at the end of her tether.
John’s illness has always baffled doctors, and there are times when she wishes that he would just slip away. But John’s mind is very much alive, and she can’t help but cling onto the dream he will recover.
As pressures mount, Susan resorts to one desperate act after another to keep John alive and manage his pain, all the while haunted by a creeping sense that something isn’t right with her world…
SICK is brimming with atmosphere and suspense, rich with style and psychological insight. This seemingly simple tale of two psyches will take you to the heart of the human condition, and show you just how twisted the relationships with those closest to us can be.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of three novels, a number of novellas and four collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
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