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A Touch of Jen

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Remy and Alicia, a couple of insecure service workers, are not particularly happy together—but they are bound by a shared obsession with Jen, a beautiful former co-worker of Remy’s who now seems to be following her bliss as a globe-trotting jewelry designer. When Remy has his first substantial confrontation with the unsettling figure who’s been lurking throughout the plot, this novel steps fully into its horror-slasher genre. It’s a better way to wrap everything up than I thought possible, while also being one of those ah, yes, of course endings that make perfect sense. Their dominant common interest is Remy’s former co-worker Jen, an attractive, New Agey, globe-trotting jewelry designer with freckled breasts and braces who unknowingly plays an outsize role in their sex life.

Having also been inspired while on the trip to build her spod–essentially an enclosed hot tub, much like a sense deprivation chamber or dark, warm, womb-like vessel–Alicia begins bringing her idea to life, unencumbered by the pressure of perfection and constantly reassuring herself and others that this is just a prototype. To pass time they both obsess over Jen, an old coworker of Remy's, who mirrors all those Instagram wannabe-model types. As disturbances escalate into horror, Remy and Alicia tumble into an uncanny alternate reality, one shaped by their deviant, intoxicating fantasies. Once there, Remy and Alicia try (a little too hard) to fit into Jen's exalted social circle, but violent desire and class resentment bubble beneath the surface of this beachside paradise, threatening to erupt.

Granted, I am not an avid reader of the horror genre, so perhaps my judgment is ill-informed compared to other readers, but as a mere “light horror reader,” I can say that I did enjoy the book, and that it did not cross the threshold to where I had to put it down in disgust (for reference, I read the preface to The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter and could not read any farther). Overall, this was a very refreshing page-turner and I think others will also find its odd subject matter just grotesque enough to fascinate, while also finding those sadly all-too-true gems of real life layered within it. In fact, Remy seemingly loves Alicia more after she has died than when she was alive, just like how he previously loved Jen more through the shallow placeholder of her social media than her actual existence.

I felt like I was trapped in a universe created by corporation of David Cronenberg , Terry Gilliam, Alex Garland and Charlie Kaufman. Like Buñuel, Beth Morgan recognizes that erotic desire is funny in the way it degrades subject and object. In addition to the suspense一arguably, its biggest strength一it’s also brilliantly written, with unexpectedly funny dialogue and surprising use of unlikeable characters as protagonists.It’s as though the sheer force of his longing has manifested into this toxic antagonist in the likeness of Jen. Horus, a very easy-going, non-judgmental fellow, is too laid back for Remy’s taste, and Remy perceives Horus’s over-zealous friendliness as disingenuous. It's almost as if the author got bored of their own work, and decided to completely change the story arc.

it seems like the kind of story that would make a good, obscure indie movie, so if that's not your thing I wouldn't read it. In an interview with The Rumpus, she stated that this came from her desire to “portray the absurdity and self-absorption of the personal journey or the hero’s journey. I loved the twists and turns it had, and i havent been able to stop thinking about it since I finished it.To Remy, all of these people feel like they’re performing, and because he feels like he’s the only one who can see through the facades, he gains a sense of superiority, a justification to why he’s inexplicably excluded from their group dynamics. Alicia begins transforming into Jen through her clothing (such as a stolen sweater from Jen), mannerisms (acting self-confident and blunt), and speech (repeating word-for-word phrases Jen has said to her), altering her social life to align closer to what she knows of Jen. Thus interpreting this fickle happenstance as another sure indicator from the universe of what he’s meant to do, Remy feels certain in how to slay the Paranormalagus: the universe wants him to kill Jen. The way the dialogue is written, the blunt and ambivalent attitudes of Remy and Alicia, every interaction and every scene has a slight unsettling nature to it. A different read than what I normally encountered, I enjoyed the humor especially the knock knock joke about someone being in the kitchen.

Carla is quite open, but would she have to insist so frequently that she has clairvoyant instincts if she was truly secure in her psychic abilities?I read over 200 novels a year, the bulk of them horror and thrillers, and this novel was so unsettling, original, and so good that I'll be taking about it for years to come, for sure. Having few others to turn to, Remy spends more time with Jake, who strives to be as supportive as he can be.

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