Alright, I went completely out of my comfort zone on this one. I don’t usually go for horror. At all. I think the closest I’ve come to horror is Dean Koontz and his books are more sci-fi/horror which makes it less real and scary to me. I love his Odd Thomas. I can’t even watch horror films. The last horror flick I watched was The Ring. In 2002. I had nightmares for weeks and would only shower with the curtain open. To say the least I do not do horror. Something about this book called to me though. I have a stack of books waiting to be read, several of them ARCs, but I just couldn’t stop myself from picking this one up.
Maybe part of why I couldn’t is the disclaimer plastered on 24690’s Goodreads page.
***********WARNING*********** This book contains EXTREMELY disturbing situations, explicit sexual content, and very graphic language. This book EXCEEDS the dark genre and has been classified as PITCH BLACK. May contain triggers for some. Read at your own risk!!
Really, how could I resist that? Come on. It’s like a taunt! So, against my better judgement, I dove in. I feel like I need my own disclaimer here, before I continue. I am in no way mentally unsound. I am nonviolent and extremely squeamish around blood. Heck, if it were the 70’s I’d happily pull on some bell bottoms and dive into the hippie culture of peace and love. I feel like I need to say that because, really, this book is messed up.
In the first opening pages we have two murders, one a complete blood bath, and a violent rape. I know, right? That would send many people running but I just couldn’t help myself. On we go.
Quickly we learn that the story takes place in an enormous secret facility hidden away under a mountain. There, the rich and corrupt pay handsomely to own slaves which they can do with what they please. No government interference. No consequences. These tenants each have an apartment within the facility where they often stay and house their slave as those purchased may never leave. They live there. They die there. There is no escape. Their prison is called Whitlock.
Within Whitlock we have Everleigh, slave 24690, and she has been enslaved there since she was a child. She is the victim of the violent rape in the opening pages and it was her master who was brutally murdered. Now that her master is dead, she is to be put up for auction. To stand before men and their money to be pawed at and sold to the highest bidder. These soulless monsters who see her as nothing more than a toy. A thing to be played with however they please. It takes a lot to please them.
Bram Whitlock is the owner of the facility as his father was before him and he has had his eye on 24690 for years. After a bit of song and dance where he tries to convince himself and Everleigh that he shouldn’t have her because of his depraved nature, they do the horizontal tango. A lot. It’s not pretty. No one would call what they do “making love.” If there is a rating higher than “R” that is what they do would fall under. Cringe with me, if you will.
What follows is Bram’s murder, Everleigh falling into the hands of his successor, and (pardon me) some of the most f*ed up crap you will ever read. We have cannibalism, fights to the death, beheadings, sexual mutilation, and more rape than you ever thought possible within the pages of a book. More than one person gets flayed. It is more than slightly disturbing.
Despite all of that, it really didn’t bother me that much. I’m unsure if that is a complaint or not but none of the characters were relate-able. They were all so far down the rabbit hole they were barely human. I am certain if they had seemed more human I wouldn’t have been able to finish this book. It would have been too much. As it is, the book is oddly appealing. There is no happily ever after, no neat and tidy ending but it does have a sick revenge. Don’t flinch, the guy deserves it.
If I do have anything negative to say it is that the editing is atrocious. There were so many punctuation errors at some points that the story was difficult to follow. They were distracting. At many points there also seem to be words missing which certainly disrupts the flow. A good proof-reader could really clean this up.
In a nutshell, if you are overly sensitive or squeamish turn and run. Otherwise, I think this book is worth a try. You may love it. You may also run for the hills or cry under the bed. Who knows. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.