Julia Montgomery has been committed to a psychiatric facility for the murder of her husband. Haunted by illicit nightmares eclipsing into waking reality, her carnal deed was result of protecting her children. Once imprisoned to the four walls of her crumbling sanity the body count begins to rise within the ward. Something sinister has transpired behind the scenes. An unorthodox, secretive, highly unethical therapy has been introduced called the Nightmare Project. Will the unconventional sessions be enough for Julia to slay her demons or will something unfathomable arise from the inner recesses of darkness within her mind?
Author Jo-Anne Russell’s introductory novel within the Dangerous Minds trilogy is a pulse pounding psychological thriller that preys upon the subconscious. This twisted cognitive drama is a most welcome relief from the arsenal of countless stories polluted with glittery vampires, unrelenting vampires and monotonous, predictable story lines. The Nightmare Project charters territory even the average reader can relate to, the fear factor conceived within each of our very own minds.
The underlining theme of lost love especially concerning family and children only enhances the realism of the plot further. Nothing is more terrifying unto a parent than the possibility of losing your offspring. Russell seems to have a firm grasp on this concept tweaking the terror an extra notch much to the combined dismay and delight for a legion of fans.
A certain aura of mystique surrounds the character of Kaitlyn. Undoubtedly her presence will present a certain allure unto readers fond of the paranormal and supernatural themed stories. Even the most cynical of readers will appreciate a good possession/ghost story when crafted with expert precision and presented in fashion that will appeal to a global audience.
The descriptions and imagery within the pages are vivid, accentuating a wide scale from the monotony and mundane to the living Technicolor terror. A virtual film reel is released within the readers head making this tale a most translatable tale that would make an excellent movie script. The everyday mannerisms, behaviour and thought processes are enhanced with such flawless execution we are instantly reinforced with very real, tangible characters to get behind and root for to rise above all adversity.
Some minor concerns have arisen as a result of digesting the Nightmare Project. I admire author Jo-Anne Russell’s patriotic tendencies to fixating her setting within rural Canadiana. Yet there are certain references that really only Canadian readers will fully appreciate. The character’s fixations with coffee Mammon Tim Horton’s is one instance that comes to mind. While many Canucks may get a chuckle out of these circumstances I feel the author is settling herself short. The references will certainly go over the heads of many U.S. or U.K. readers and will ultimately frustrate them. I don’t think the passages are critical to plot development and somewhat tarnish the tale in terms of global reader appreciation. There is most definitely potential for a mass audience and its somewhat disappointing Russell would settle herself short in these instances.
Pivot plot points arise towards the latter regions of the remaining acts. Such unexpected story telling is indicative of a well thought out, creative process. Suffice to say even Mr. Hitchcock himself would be proud to admire. A most welcome chiller to be enjoyed among the seasons but be forewarned the nightmares may lurk just behind your very own cerebral cortex.
Book Review: The Nightmare Project – Author Jo-Anne Russell