Review: Marrow by Tarryn Fisher

My Thoughts

Brilliantly dark, twisted and provocative.
It’s a compelling psychological thriller whose exploration of love and hopelessness make the story impossible to forget.

4stars

Synopsis

marrow coverIn the Bone there is a house.

In the house there is a girl.

In the girl there is a darkness.

Margo is not like other girls. She lives in a derelict neighborhood called the Bone, in a cursed house, with her cursed mother, who hasn’t spoken to her in over two years. She lives her days feeling invisible. It’s not until she develops a friendship with her wheelchair-bound neighbor, Judah Grant, that things begin to change. When neighborhood girl, seven-year-old Neveah Anthony, goes missing, Judah sets out to help Margo uncover what happened to her.

What Margo finds changes her, and with a new perspective on life, she’s determined to find evil and punish it–targeting rapists and child molesters, one by one.

But hunting evil is dangerous, and Margo risks losing everything, including her own soul.

My Review

“I believe in loneliness so deep and profound it has a physical presence. I believe in choices—hard ones that people in charge seldom seem to get right. I believe that everyone needs something: a woman’s touch, companionship, money, forgiveness. And to acquire those things a person will accumulate as much sin as they need to.”

There is just something about Tarryn Fisher’s writing.  It’s both chillingly stoic and brimming with emotion. It’s poetic and piercing, sinister and alluring, enlivening the dark and buried parts of her character’s souls. Similar to Mud Vein, Fisher delivers an introspective and grisly psychological thriller, but not only in terms of its nefariousness, but also in terms of the human conditions it explores. Specifically,  we see how the core of a person can bruise, morph and twist due to the circumstances of their upbringing… to the people who pass on their own shortcomings… their hopelessness… their blood and marrow.

We meet Margo, who lives in a dilapidated shack she calls “the eating house” in place called the Bone. The Bone represents the dejection, hunger (literal and emotional), fear and sadness that consumes the people who live there. It’s the demoralizing acceptance that life will likely not get any better than the scraps of stale food, the suffusing smell of mold and urine, the drugs, the whoring or perhaps most importantly, the lack of love. It’s a rot that consumes generation after generation and Margo knows this all too well with a mother whose vacant eyes never even glance her way. With a life that seems invisible and derelict. With a father who she does not know.

“The Bone is in our marrow. It’s complacency and fear handed down from generation to generation.”

But one day, her neighbor’s confidence sparks a conversation that awakens something dormant inside. Judah Grant is beautiful, strong and… bound to a wheelchair. Yet he is everything that is good and hopeful, and with one conversation, Margo has found someone who sees her for the first time in years.

“I’ll save you, if you save me.”

Her happiness is short-lived, however, when a little girl she knew well, Neveah, goes missing, and the dark reality of the Bone eats at her, sparking a rage which had been inside her all along.

“I understand sadness, and so I trust it. We are meant to feel sadness, if only to protect us from the brief spiels of happiness. Darkness is all I’ll ever know; maybe the key is to make poetry out of it.”

Margo’s marrow flexes and twists as she takes control of her life, determined to be more than what the eating house and the Bone and her mother and father dictate. Determined to help those that didn’t have it in them to save themselves. She seeks to eradicate the evil around her.

“I can’t stay the way I am. I don’t remember what it’s like to be free. To be wide open without fear. I need something to break me.”

I found it fascinating that Margo seems deceptively detached, when it’s really that she feels so much and so intensely that she needs control to reign in what surges inside. While this is not a romance, love is ever present, whether it’s the absence or abundance of it. Admittedly, the story lagged at times and I think it was because so much of it was internal monologue, experiencing Margo in all her dynamic glory. It also seemed to match the pace of her own transformation.

I think that Margo found her way to be free of her past, to have control over her emotions, to find retribution poetically, in a way that felt meaningful. Perhaps her vigilante tendencies were her own way of finding love…. of feeling… of finding purpose. But would she lose her soul and sanity in the process? Would fate finally end her deadly machinations?

In expected Tarryn Fisher style, the story brilliantly blurs the line between wrong and right, sanity and psychosis. It takes us for a ride and just when we think that we know how the rest of the story unfurls, she throws surprises our way to further challenge and wrench our emotions. If you’re looking to get lost in a story that is suspenseful, reflective, gritty, thrilling and provocative, Marrow will not lead you astray.

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