Alister Kunkle is a patient at the Sunnyside Capable Care Mental Institution. For the past 25 years, he has been secluded from the staff, and the outside world, at his own request. He is convinced that anyone who communicates with him, in any way, is dead within a day, for Alister is Cursed.
His first exposure to death came when he was a child, and he attended the funeral of a beloved aunt. As a married man, Alister became convinced that Death had cursed him when he came home to find his wife and child dead. He rushed into the street, and laid down in the middle of the road, hoping that someone will put him out of his misery. A driver narrowly misses him, and rushes to Alister's aid, to see if he is alright. The driver suddenly keels over, dead from a heart attack. Taken to Sunnyside in an ambulance, Alister distinctly remembers a number of staff members, including big, muscular orderlies used to mental patients, dropping like flies. Looking out the window of his room, Alister sees a dry, dessicated landscape full of dead plants.
A psychiatrist named Anna Lee comes to the Institution, demanding to see Alister. The Director does his best to dissuade her, telling her about Alister's "situation," and showing her news articles as proof. She is not to be denied, so she enters Alister's room, talks with him for a while, then leaves, saying that she will be back the next day. Lo and behold, she returns the next day; she is not dead. Moving one step at a time, she takes Alister outside. The grounds are green and lush, not brown, dry and lifeless. She tells Alister that he is mentally ill, and not cursed. The beloved aunt, whose funeral Alister distinctly remembers, died several years before he was born. The mass deaths at the Institution on Alister's arrival never happened. Dr. Lee reveals that she is not exactly who she says she is. Then things get weird.
This is a very well-written book, with a little bit of Stephen King-like horror. It will keep the reader interested, and it is a gem of a story. First of a series, this book is about a man who believes that Death has taken an unnatural interest in him, killing everyone with whom he comes in contact. Can he really be cursed, or is he just mentally ill? ~ reviewed by Paul LappenClick here to read more reviews