I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Home by Mats Strandberg
Published by Jo Fletcher Books on May 14 2020
Genres: Horror, European Literature, cultural, Sweden
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Once inseparable, Joel and Nina haven't spoken in twenty years.
When Joel's mother Monika develops dementia, he has no choice but to return to his home town. Monika needs specialist care, and that means Pineshade - which also means Joel is going to have to deal with his one-time best friend, for Nina works there.
It's not long before Monika's health deteriorates - she starts having violent, terrifying outbursts, and worse, she appears to know things she couldn't possibly know. It's almost as if she isn't herself any more... but of course, that's true of most of the residents at Pineshade.
Only Nina and Joel know Monika well enough to see the signs; only by working together can they try to find answers to the inexplicable...
The Home is an eerie story about love, friendship and the greatest fear of all: losing control of ourselves..
The Home is a spectacular tale of mistakes, families and forgiveness. Nina and Joel haven’t seen each other in twenty years. Mistakes were made, and both blame the other for both their approach to life and what it become. This is a story that will have your heart aching and palpitating in equal measure. At points, it’s not healthy for the readers continuation of life – my favourite type of read!
This one hit home especially hard after having a career in nursing the elderly specialising in neurological disorders. Strandberg’s research was spot on and took me back in time to various nightshifts. It was a story I could fall back in time with.
Joel has returned to a small town in Sweden after trying to make it as a musician in Stockholm. His mother, Monika, has recently suffered a heart attack that resulted in her dying and having her heart restarted. She was alive, but her brain was starved of oxygen longer than anticipated, she now has dementia that is worsening at an alarming rate. He’s home but struggling to manage her care as her guardian. He makes the painful decision to transfer her care to Pineshade, a care home with a dubious rep.
The Home is great at giving us accurate intricates of the pressures and stresses of being a parental carer. We are introduced to Bjorn, Joel’s older brother who is wrapped up work, holidays and his own family obligations and doesn’t find the time to support his brother until much later in the storyline. Joel has had a difficult life to say the least, his brother not withstanding hasn’t helped to make him feel included. He’s had problems with drugs and struggled with his sexuality and coming back to Lyckered has exasperated it all over again.
The Home is a more complex story than just Joel caring for his mum. His anxieties play a major part nothing in this story is plain black vs white. The characters are multi-layered, and you need to strip back the layers of these characters to discover just how grey and unattached they are.
One thing that I absolutely loved about The Home is how Strandberg used the thinly veiled threat of mental illness to distract the reader, you don’t see the horror walking in in plain sight before it’s too late. Be prepared to doubt the things you are reading and seeing. This is a story that at its heart is about putting the past to rest.
Monika doesn’t take to living in Pineshade and during her moments of lucidity seems very worried, the other residents reflecting those worries. Is Monika’s new episodes and rapidly changing behaviour something to worry about or is it just the manifestation of dementia? Is the fact that staff members leaving and residents dying a mere coincidence or is something altogether malignant and sinister happening to Monika?
The Home is an intense and claustrophobic horror. The author excels at humanity and horror, a creeping sense of unease will have you addicted and wanting more.
ABOUT MATS STRANDBERG
Mats Strandberg is an award-winning novelist and journalist. He is a regular columnist for Sweden’s biggest evening newspaper, has been named Columnist of the Year by Sweden’s Newspapers and Magazines organization, and had published three previous novels, with rights sold in numerous countries.