Never Forgive Me, Never Forget Me is the title of a novel by up and coming author, Kyle Atwood. Kyle is from Detroit where he lives with his fiancée and pets, 3 rats a hamster and a lizard. Never Forgive Me, Never Forget Me is Kyle Atwood’s first book though there are now 4 books out on the marketplace. Aside from writing disturbing horror stories, Kyle is an avid reader, gamer, photographer and maintenance man
Simon Grey’s young life has always been a struggle, a downward spiral laced with depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Now it seems even reality has turned against him. Simon awakes in an abandoned hospital and soon finds that his entire city has lost all power and has fallen almost completely silent, all the streets empty except for impossibly deformed and horrifying creatures. The questions impale Simon’s head like spears from the void, Where did all of these things come from? How did an entire city just go away in a few hours? Is this even real? Follow Simon’s slowly decaying mind as he searches through the darkness for answers, he’s sure, doesn’t exist.
Our story starts with meeting Simon. Instantly we learn that Simon is, well, troubled. He is with a doctor, looking for a top up to his medication, Zoloft. Zoloft is used to treat depression and anxiety amongst other things. We meet Tricia or hear from her. She is Simon’s friend and has been for a long time. She appears to be in an abusive relationship with someone called Miguel. As you can imagine, Simon despises Miguel. Partly because of how he treats Tricia but also because he is secretly in love with Tricia.
Tricia seems a lot like Simon actually -she has very little to no confidence or self esteem. Miguel uses her for sex, breaks up with her, tortures her mentally and through all this Tricia feels to blame. She tells Simon that she is and has nothing during one phone call after Miguel dumps her again. It is a sad story and a sad intro. Two young souls, both suffering from depression, anxiety and god knows what else. One secretly loves the other while the other holds on to an abusive relationship just so she doesn’t have to be alone.
Simon hates Miguel – a deep rooted hate. This is inflamed further when a later conversation with Tricia has her acting happy, like nothing has ever happened because Miguel has returned to her. This seems to happen a lot and as Simon sits on his bed, pills in one hand and knife in the other, he contemplates the point in being. The point in carrying on.
Simon has nightmares and in these nightmares he sees horrific things. A deserted city, a devilish being, pentagrams, monstrous deformed people and worst of all, Miguel and Tricia having violent sex. Fast forward a bit and Simon is struggling to keep things together. His dreams come every night, each one seeming more real than the previous nights. One morning, he is preparing to drag his corpse to school when he has a text from Tricia. She is looking for someone to hang out with after school. She tells Simon that her and Miguel aren’t together any more. He doesn’t want to be with her but has persuaded her to agree to be “a friend with benefits”. This pushes Simon over the edge a little as he tries to explain to Tricia why she is being stupid. She doesn’t get it though.
At this point in the story, I found myself really feeling for Simon. The guy is having it rough and Tricia, well she is absolutely unlikeable. Literally calling Simon when she is sad about Miguel and then disappearing when they are back together. Sympathy becomes the overwhelming feeling towards Tricia soon though. A short while afterwards, Simon is having an anxiety attack and popping a few more pills when Tricia calls him. He meets with her and we get a glimpse at why she is so insecure when her family make a brief appearance.
They talk and treat her like she is worthless and that seems to have rubbed off on her in later life. Simon and Tricia leave and head to the marina to hang out. They have a real tender moment and things looks like maybe, just maybe, there could be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Like all good stories though, just when you see that glimmer, something usually stands in front of it to return you to darkness. The something this time round is Miguel. Miguel and one of his cronies appear and find Simon and Tricia in each others arms. A fight ensues which, despite a bloody good effort from Simon, sees him knocked out.
Simon wakes some time later and everything is different now. He is in an abandoned hospital, a derelict building rumoured to be haunted. He is furious, he want’s Miguel dead. His opportunity comes quickly as somebody attacks him in the darkness. After a long and bloody battle, Simon is left standing over the battered and lifeless body of his most hated enemy but as he checks the body by his phone’s torchlight, he sees that it was Miguel’s friend he has just brutally killed and not Miguel. He also notices that the guy has had his tongue and eyes removed meaning that either Miguel did this or there is someone else in this hospital. As Simon runs through the hospital, feeling afraid and like he is being hunted, he hears his name being screamed and gets chased by a monstrous creature before collapsing.
Simon comes around and is back in a dark and derelict hallway, again he feels hunted and enclosed as he runs and wonders just what the hell is going on? He finds Miguel who is strapped to a table. He finds a note telling him the key to escape is in Miguel. Fear gets the better of him and, in his desperation to get out of this hospital, Simon finds himself ripping Miguel to pieces as he searches around in side him for they key to freedom. Eventually he finds a key and leaves the hospital. Unfortunately the night’s insanity is just beginning.
He tries to call the police but he can’t get through. Simon calls his mother and she talks very oddly to him. He runs through the streets but finds nobody. Eventually he runs into another creature, eyeless and tongue less that attacks him. He fights and barely survives but manages to kill it with a hammer. Right around now, Simon is starting to question reality. Is any of this real? Was he dreaming? Was it an hallucination? As a reader, you are doing the same. I must admit to thinking he was dead and in some sort of hellscape.
As Simon continues to work his way through the city, he encounters monstrous versions of people he knows, all trying to kill him or stop him. His doctor, his family, Tricia’s family and even Tricia herself. Can he possibly survive this terrifying world? Is it even real or is he going to wake up in his bed shortly having had another vivid nightmare? Has he lost his mind or has everybody else?
You will have to read Never Forgive Me, Never Forget Me to find out and believe me, you will want to find out. This story has a wonderful twist at the end that you won’t see coming but when it does, bang, a story that at times seems odd and confusing suddenly makes perfect sense. As plots go, it is well imagined, well worked and hugely disturbing. I couldn’t fault this storyline at all. I like the characters and find them oddly familiar. Simon in particular is that guy who just deserves a break. I hate Tricia at first but quickly come to sympathise with her and as for Miguel, man that guy needs a slap. Just the fact that I still harbour ill will to the characters a few days after finishing the story should give you an idea of how well developed they are.
The horror mainly comes in two forms. We have the standard gore, mutilation and buckets of blood but we also have a huge amount of horror from a psychological viewpoint. From abusive family to psychological issues to suicide. There is enough here to make sure you are firmly on edge. My only issue with this story is in how some of it is written. On occasions, I found some sentences to be overly long and too heavy with adjectives. There are also some that don’t make complete sense. One such is “I turned to my left and there was an extremely thick cable in front of a surprisingly, seemingly ageless service ladder”. It just doesn’t sit quite right.
There are a few occasions where the word used felt wrong, or I just wasn’t getting it. While looking at a gravestone, Simon describes the phrase he reads on it as an “epitome” whereas he should have called it an “epitaph”. What this means is that on occasion, during the story, you find yourself rereading sentences and correcting them or some of the words within. While these things are a little annoying, they don’t really detract from the story much and the book isn’t exactly littered with them.
All in all, Never Forgive Me, Never Forget Me is a really interesting and supremely disturbing story which keeps you guessing up until the very end. I would highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys horror fiction, especially those who like it with a psychological edge. Well played, Mr Atwood.
You can pick up a copy of Never Forgive Me, Never Forget Me for yourself from here. You can also grab it and more from Kyle Atwood at the links below the article. Find out more about this supremely talented young author over at Facebook, his wixsite and at his blog. Be sure to give him a like and follow where you can too.
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Never Forgive Me, Never Forget Me by Kyle Atwood