RACHEL and Dan have come to spend their three-week honeymoon in a luxury hotel in Antigua.
The Quickening - Julie Myerson
It’s all rather shotgun, as they’ve only just tied the knot and Rachel is already 14 weeks pregnant – an accident – with Dan proposing to her at the last minute and announcing the Caribbean trip as a fait accompli, a wonderful surprise.
Leaving the cold, grey misery of Gatwick airport in January behind, they arrive to find a tropical paradise of cocktails, plunge pools, gorgeous beaches and endless blue sky. What could be more romantic? And yet something’s not quite right.
The taxi driver seems to recognise Dan, even though Dan says he’s never been here before. He also warns Rachel, ominously, that her husband cannot leave the island. Then, in the hotel room, as Rachel puts her glass of fizzy wine down on a table, it suddenly smashes against the wall, apparently by itself.
A little later Rachel visits the ladies’ loo in the restaurant where one of the maids tells her that her husband is in danger. As she says this, the screws in the light fitting start undoing themselves and the light suddenly hurls itself through the air.
Fom here on, things can only get spookier. Rachel starts having nightmares about being buried alive and wakes up to find her feet and hands covered in dirt, her nails bleeding. Dan is beginning to behave strangely too, making furtive calls, disappearing for hours on end and treating Rachel as if she’s going mad. Is she?
Well, maybe she is, and Myerson is particularly good at cranking up the ambiguity, setting scene after scene in which everything appears to be normal on the outside while Rachel’s inner world starts sliding into disintegration.
Right up until the extremely violent ending, the question of whether Rachel is bonkers or not remains tantalisingly unclear even if, as a tale of the supernatural in which objects move by themselves, it doesn’t quite come off. It’s a good fast read; just the thing for your next Caribbean holiday. «