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  • Writer's pictureThe Fiction Fox

Review: Supplication - Nour Abi-Nakhoul


Genre: horror

Published: Strange Light by Penguin Random House, May 2024

My Rating: 1/5 stars


Although I usually don’t rate my DNF’s, I’ve seen enough after 200 pages to:


1. Know that I am not going to change my mind about disliking it.


2. Have a profound headache, the likes of which not many novels can claim to have caused me.


There may be an audience out there who will eat a book like this up, and on the surface I thought I might be part of that audience. Unfortunately, I was not.


The story:

An unnamed woman wakes up in a basement, tied to a chair, a strange man looming over her. Following a bloody escape, she emerges from her captivity into the light of a strange and alienating town. Her journey through the streets of this nightmarish landscape, and her equally nightmarish mind is captured here in these pages.


What I liked:

The most striking part of Supplication is its prose. In fact, it’s basically all the novel has to offer, as the plot is barely there, and more so hinted at than actually developed. The author clearly has a great grasp of “the feeling of language”. She paints a hallucinatory picture in your mind with her words, and if the goal was to disorient and confuse the reader, they definitely succeeded in that aspect. Maybe, if I had read this as more of an experimental type of long-form poetry, I might have enjoyed it more, just for its artistic value… As it stands; it’s barely readable as a novel…


What I didn’t like:

The prose in this book isn’t so much purple, as it is somewhere outside the visible spectrum into the ultraviolet hues. Dense to the point of being almost unreadable, this was a labour to get through, and ultimately failed to deliver any plot or development of substance. Metaphors go on for paragraphs on end, seemingly without purpose or reason. Speaking of which; the same can be said for our protagonist. It’s (perhaps deliberately so) impossible to get a feeling for our protagonist, her motivations, or even her emotional state. She floats through the story like a ghost, not connecting to anything around her, let alone the reader. Again; this might be deliberate, as a manifestation of her post-traumatic state and feelings of isolation from the world as a result. In that case: well done to the author for capturing that. As the reader however, her character was so slippery and incorporeal that I felt like I had nothing to grasp onto.


Overall; a very marmite book, that unfortunately wasn’t for me. Credits to the cover though, for capturing the essence of the story: flowery, dense, disturbing, eye-catching, and something I would NOT hang on my wall as it’s distinctly not my personal taste…


Many thanks to Strange Light by Penguin Random House for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

You can find this book here on Goodreads.

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