The Hobgoblin Of Little Minds: Mark Matthews
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I’ve quickly become a fan of Mark Matthews after reading his novella ‘Body of Christ’ and his short story in Lullabies for Suffering. Mark is a highly educated man who always makes sure to put depth and meaning into his work. Because of that, I was very enthralled when he announced his next release would be set in an abandoned asylum which was based on a real location.
What I liked: ‘The Hobgoblin of Little Minds’ is a very unsettling read. Two main plots run through this. The first is the very obvious creature-feature aspect. This follows Kori, searching for her father in the tunnels below the former hospital/asylum. Slated for demolition, fifteen years ago her father came here and hasn’t been seen since, so she’s running out of time to find any evidence of where he’s gone. On this particular visit, she finds him and he’s not like she remembered.
The second, is the philosophical look at mental illness. Much like ‘Come Closer’ by Sara Gran that I recently read, Matthews has set this book up with, to a degree, a “is this all actually happening” approach.
Many of the scenes where Kori, and her father, are looking back on how things unfolded and they’ve arrived to where they are, were incredibly introspective moments. Really hard to digest as they were very profound.
As the story unfolds and we see a lot of the ‘why,’ Matthews has brilliantly set this up so that you’ll find yourself rooting for characters and hoping for a seemingly impossible happy ending.
What I didn’t like: Throughout, the character Lilith plays a very specific role and I found I just couldn’t get on board with her character. I’m not sure why, but whenever she returned and there was some debate about God’s involvement and what she believed her purpose was, I found it really distracted and detracted from the story I wanted to read, the story of Kori and her father.
Why you should buy this: If you’re already a fan of Matthews, this is a no-brainer. He’s crafted another gem and has only furthered his reputation of taking on difficult themes and making them enjoyable to read. But for the new fans, if you’re looking for a book that’ll make you stop and think, that asks questions and offers some variable answers, this will be right up your alley. Oh, and never forget, Matthews always brings buckets of gore.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention the afterword. Matthews says good afterwords are designed to highlight some of the story while fading away and quickly forgotten. While I may disagree with him there, I love afterwords, this one is really well done, focusing on different clinical aspects as well as the real-life location used for inspiration. Great stuff.
The Hobgoblin Of Little Minds
Kori Persephone Driscoe suffered through her dad’s mental illness. All she wanted was for him to get better, but instead he disappeared. Kori trespasses into the abandoned Northville Psychiatric Hospital, the last place her dad was treated, seeking solace and traces of his memory. What she finds instead is something no longer human living deep in the underground tunnels.
During the last days of the hospital, a roque psychiatrist had been manipulating the mood swings of the mentally ill, transforming patients into savage, manic creatures who seek justice by the light of the full moon. When the creatures hunt for prey, only an escaped patient and her beloved child can help Kori survive—but they better act fast, because the creatures want blood, Kori wants to save her dad, and the whole hospital is about to be blown to pieces and bury Kori alive.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
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