Book Review: Bedfellow by Jeremy C. Shipp

Title: Bedfellow

Author: Jeremy C. Shipp

Genre: Horror Novella

Number of Pages: 224

Rating: B+

Recommended?: Yes

Whoa, this is a fucking WEIRD book. It’s preoccupation with nightmare logic is definitely not for everyone but makes for strangely compelling reading. Bedfellow starts out by introducing us to Lund family; Hendrik (the husband,) Imani (the wife,) and Tomas and Kennedy (the kids.) They seem to be fairly comfortable and privileged and the father’s shady activities go unnoticed by the rest of the family.

One night a mysterious entity breaks into the family’s home and implants memories in their heads ‘explaining’ his presence. First the stranger, ‘Marvin,’ is a good Samaritan who saved Tomas from choking to death in a restaurant. Then he’s a family friend. Then he’s the children’s uncle. Marvin is weird, vaguely menacing, and primarily speaks in references to bad movies.

The he summons ‘little Marvins,’ deformed mutant versions of himself for the family members to carry around in their pockets. Kennedy, a lonely teenage girl, seems to enjoy having a ‘little Marvin’ to accompany her places and everybody seems to take a bizarre events more or less in stride, despite occasional confusion about the manner in which Marvin is controlling their lives. The first half of this book was creepy. The second half (with the pocket-sized Marvin clones) was silly but definitely not boring.

I would have preferred a more conclusive ending but the whole thing is like a dream anyway so I guess the ending the author chose makes sense (in that it doesn’t make sense.) Hendrick was a dick but his wife and kids were cool. I thoroughly enjoyed Tomas and Kennedy’s fun, supportive relationship and I would have loved to join in on the ‘drawing battle’ game they kept playing throughout the book.

There were a lot of bizarre details in this book that seemed randomly inserted and didn’t really come to anything, as well as a lot of weird pop culture references (and not just Marvin’s affinity for trash movies.) Marvin is probably one of the most unique antagonists I’ve read about in a long time. His motives were completely mysterious and I was disturbed by how much he fucked with the family’s heads, making them disoriented and sick and shifting identities and reasons for being in their home anytime it suited him. I was impressed by the author’s imagination, even if the narrative itself could have used to be a little more focused. Ultimately it’s a very scattered, ‘style over substance’ affair but despite (or maybe even because of) this I found it to be fascinatingly and entertainingly odd.

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