When I picked this fiction book up at the store, I laughed to myself thinking that it could not possibly be a book literally about bedbugs. Maybe the story just made a random reference to bedbugs. The blurb insinuated that maybe there were quasi-bedbugs bothering a middle-aged woman, and I presumed it dealt with her mid-life crises. Going in blindly like this proved to be the right thing to do with this novel.
Alex and Susan have decided to relocate to a new apartment in Brooklyn that was featured on Craigslist for a real bargain. While previewing the apartment, they see that it goes beyond their hopes. They find it spacious – including a small room for Susan to reignite her painting skills. Emma, their daughter, is a friendly, caring four-year-old just anxious to have a place to run freely.
Soon after moving in, strange things begin happening – especially to Susan. There is a horrible smell that permeates the small room. The landlady is invasive and appears at inopportune times. Alex becomes overwhelmed with work, staying late hours. There is also a continual pinging noise that seems to abruptly stop whenever Susan tries to find its origin. Susan believes there is something ominous about the apartment. Then, she gets a bite on her arm. She believes it is a bedbug bite, despite having Alex and a professional exterminator assure her that the apartment is void of all bugs. Is the apartment really crawling with bedbugs? Or is Susan suffering a far greater psychosis?
While researching bedbugs, Susan details the disgusting bug’s way of life – they feed off of human blood and dead skin, they have no reproductive organs, and their larvae are white gnats that can lie anywhere – even on a toothbrush. Susan becomes more delusional, sensing that the bedbugs are everywhere in the apartment, and that she is covered in bites. She continually scratches at her skin, breaking it open, and letting it bleed. This puts her marriage on edge and her friends at bay. They have yet to see a single bedbug. Questioning Susan’s sanity is something everyone, characters and readers alike, continually do.
Susan learns in her research that the only way to eradicate the bugs is to do something unthinkable, perhaps even murder. While contemplating her plan, the climax quickly unfolds leading to an intense, unexpected ending. Gross, icky, and creepy resonate after turning that last page.
The novel is a fast read merely because the reader wants to resolve Susan’s paranoia. I found myself checking my own skin for any possible welts every night that I read this book. As the reader, I was suffering the same anxious fears of Susan. I even washed the bed sheets an extra time for safety precautions. Bedbugs is a simple horror story. This book will definitely get under your skin and leave you itching for more. It gets five well-inflamed stars!
Library Voodoo is one of the newest contributors on OneManAsylum.com. She also reviews children's books on another site. You can find her on Twitter @libraryvoodoo.
Rating (1 - 5)
Library Voodoo - 5
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