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Alison Rumfitt

Forfatter af Tell Me I'm Worthless

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Værker af Alison Rumfitt

Tell Me I'm Worthless (2021) 236 eksemplarer
Brainwyrms (2023) 16 eksemplarer
The T(y)ranny 1 eksemplar

Associated Works

The Book of Queer Saints (Volume II) — Bidragyder — 2 eksemplarer

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People who like to describe things as "elevated horror" talk a lot about the difference between horror and terror. You know, "the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse," as they say (or, ok, as Devendra Varma said, according to the "Horror and Terror" Wikipedia page...). What people often fail to mention is that a lot of so-called horror media is not really about horror, or about terror, but about disgust. More ick than eek. No more frightening than spoiled milk, no less upsetting.

Folks, this is prime example of what I'm talking about. Brainwyrms is gross. Brainwyrms is disgusting. Brainwyrms should not be read in times and places where it would be inappropriate to become violently ill. Very icky. Whatever the opposite of elevated is. Neither the smell of death nor the stumbled upon corpse but the maggots and piles of vomit left behind for the crime scene clean-up crew. I often asked myself, why am I reading this? why am I doing this to myself? It is the stinkingest turd of a novel I have ever read.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, as they say! And as turds go, this one was pretty polished. Rumfitt does a really fine job here of crafting a compelling narrative that neither under nor overplays its (unwashed) hand. The characters are well-formed, distinct, plausibly motivated to behave as they do. And the more straight-forward horror elements lurk persistently in the background, waiting patiently to be born. It has none of the flaws of Rumfitt's first novel, Tell Me I'm Worthless (which I found to be poorly structured, derivative, philosophically confused, etc.), or of Eric LaRocca's similarly premised Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke (which was rushed, pointless, unbelievable, etc.). I doubt I will recommend it to anyone -- I try to avoid rendering my friends and loved ones nauseous -- nor can I say honestly that I enjoyed it. But if you're looking to have a bad time reading a good book: this is for you.

P.S. Thanks NetGalley! This book should come with an anti-emetic!
… (mere)
maddietherobot | Oct 21, 2023 |
Tell Me I'm Worthless had a very interesting beginning, one that I thought would set up this novel quite nicely, but unfortunately, it went seriously downhill from that point on. I felt like I was reading an entirely different book; the only reason I kept going was because I wanted to actually find out if the haunted house played a bigger role in this book.

The actual horror stuff was few and far between, and although I get that the haunted house is a symbolism of fear and oppression and how easy it is for those things to control your world, that can also be a metaphor for what happened in this book. I admire and respect the author for trying to use horror, in the shape of a haunted house and the events that occurred there, as a way to show oppression in a different light, but I feel like it got away from them and instead of a good story became more of a series of weird rants that made the story disjointed. The messages/themes within the book become confusing because these rants are also confusing, dealing with things such as fascism and so on, trying to push their own political beliefs on the reader, something I wasn't having any part of. As someone who can think for herself, I would rather the ideas be there so I can think about them and form my own conclusions. In some ways, it can feel demeaning, as if a reader can't think for themselves.

The characters themselves were pretty one-dimensional and by the end of the book, I didn't feel like any of them had shown any growth. Unfortunately, the political aspects of this book took away from the overall potential of character development. If you took out a lot of those rants, this book would read really well as a short story; I thought the part with Hannah, in particular, in the haunted house was superbly done, despite the political tone to it, although I still feel like the author tends to give too much to the reader rather than let them figure things out on their own.

Tell Me I'm Worthless suffers from some editing issues as well as marketing issues. Touted as a haunted house novel, I went in expecting that and what I got was a political novel using haunted house metaphor to explore political beliefs. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue as I don't typically mind that, but it's the direct writing/ranting that turned me off this story as I don't feel it contributed much in terms of plot or character development, but served more to explore the author's personal political views/angst. Yes, the message is important, but so is the delivery, and the delivery turned me right off this book.
… (mere)
StephanieBN | 4 andre anmeldelser | May 22, 2023 |
moonlit.shelves | 4 andre anmeldelser | Apr 12, 2023 |
And now we come to the review I've been dreading, and putting off for two days. Why? Because I've talked to three different people who's opinion I trust and value, and they all loved this book. The first of those three was the one who got me excited enough to want to read it. In fact, had they actually had a copy in their bookstore, I would have bought it right then and there.

Anyway, as can be seen from my rather dismal 2-star rating, I wasn't a fan.

Let's talk the negatives first. Unfortunately, for me, there's a lot of them.

I've said this before, and I'll repeat it here: I don't need characters that I love. Not at all. But I do need a character that I can at least root for. The closest I came to with that was the severely mistreated Hanna. The rest...primarily Ila and Alice here, have virtually no redeeming qualities whatsoever. And yes, I realize part of that is the hold that Albion has on them...but much of it is them.

I get having self-loathing characters. That can actually make for a great story, even if they don't find their way out of that. The story can be about the fact that they're their own worst enemies, or enablers, or whatever. Again though, for that to happen, there must, in fact, be a story.

Which leads to my second complaint: the utter lack of story. What I experienced was the introduction of these two characters, the detailing of a couple of parties and a meeting, a lot of other stuff (I'll get to that in a moment), then them going back into the house.

That's mostly it (yes, I'm oversimplifying, but it's close). Oh, and by the way, virtually none of this is horror in the classic sense. Is there horror in what they're going through? Yes. But that's more of a general fiction horror.

And finally, what about that "other stuff"? Okay, well, that other stuff is a lot of screeds or scenes of facism, self-loathing, rape, demeaning fantasies captured on video, and...lots and lots and lots and lots of editorializing of facism and racism and LGBTQ+ (especially trans) issues. Far far far too much of that.

But, before you think it's all bad, honestly, it's really not! Almost all scenes involving the house, when the author could get out of their own way and actually focus on the horror? There. Was. Horror.

And it was good.

The house, Albion, is a lurking, malevolent presence throughout the run of the novel, and its spellbinding. Granted, Rumfitt's taking most cues from Shirley Jackson's Hill House, but still, it's quite good.

Here's the thing, for me: Sex absolutely has its place in horror, and when done well, it can elevate a scary thing to a terrifying thing. Sexuality can add an additional element of terror, because sexuality is part of the person, they can't change who they are, but when they come up against forces that don't understand it, or hate it, or fear it, there a complex conflict that can happen, and it can work for horror.

However, when the novel swaps out a meaningful plot for a few scenes of horror interspersed with a lot of preaching?

And I don't care if the preaching is about trans rights, gays, politics, guns, slavery, bad movies, religion, or freaking pineapple on pizza, it's still preaching. And preaching has no place in a novel.

Authors can absolutely get their points across within the confines of the story. No need to stop all forward motion, suspend all story elements, and just run a screed on their important issue of choice.

So, to sum up: when the horror was there, it delivered and delivered well. But the majority of the book did not focus on the horror. It focused on the message.

And that, to me, is why this novel ultimately failed.
… (mere)
TobinElliott | 4 andre anmeldelser | Mar 12, 2023 |


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