Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

In Fever dream, a woman lies in a bed, we think it’s a hospital bed, she’s talking to a boy and he is urging her to remember and recount her recent past, he is trying to help her get to some truth of what happened to her and what brought her to this present moment. He pushes her to remember and make sense of encounters with him and her family, and as she does, the story unfolds in vignettes, as a fever dream might occur. The same impending sense of doom is present here as it sometimes is in a state of delirium, and there is an underlying menace throughout too, we’re not sure who or which memories to trust and at many instances devastation feels like it’s just around the corner. 

The novel is short so there aren’t any long and detailed character descriptions, but the characters still have an emotional pull, we are invested in them, the spare prose amplifies the anxiety as we hurtle towards a conclusion but without it being excruciating. The events of the story are increasingly horrific, nonetheless reading it is enjoyable. The storytelling weaves present and past fluidly so that sometimes we aren’t sure whether the characters are relating a memory or describing their present, this becomes particularly true in the final stage of the book. 

If Fever dream  was a lot longer it would likely be a difficult read considering the anxiety it provokes, as it is, it’s a brilliant piece of literary psychological horror that I highly recommend.

Fever dream is translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, originally published in 2017. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017. Available from the Library collection and as an eBook on OverDrive. 

Meenah

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
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