REVIEW SUMMARY: An excellent example of how to write a horror novel.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A military prisoner undergoes psychiatric treatment where a deep, dark secret is revealed.
PROS: Unsurpassed writing style; beautifully crafted story; emotionally disturbing passages
CONS: Slow buildup.
BOTTOM LINE: An excellent horror/psychological thriller story.
If you have not read anything by Theodore Sturgeon you are truly missing out. Some of Your Blood is the fourth novel of his I’ve read (after More Than Human, The Dreaming Jewels and To Marry Medusa) and I’ve enjoyed every word he’s written.
Some of Your Blood concerns a soldier, George Smith (not his real name), who is locked up after a brief scuffle with a superior officer. George undergoes a psychiatric evaluation where Dr. Phil Outerbridge learns about his life and the horrible, hidden secret that shaped it.
An interesting premise, to be sure, but the appeal of the book is in Sturgeon’s application of the craft. The book is organized into a series of letters, memos and transcripts that chronologically detail the story. The first half of this short, 143-page book is essentially George’s seemingly innocent biography. The second half is correspondence between doctors as to whether George is really ill at all. Slowly, the persistent Dr. Outerbridge uncovers George’s horrifying secret.
This format allows Sturgeon to slowly build up suspense; maybe a little too slowly. The first half of the book defied any classification other than non-genre fiction. Then I realized that I was being played. The biography paints a picture of a tormented youth with an abusive father and an invalid mother. The reader quickly sympathizes with George. Later, through the correspondence, we learn that George’s story is not quite what we thought it was. The impression the book left on me was the same I got after watching The Sixth Sense. In the end, you realized that the story you just experienced was something different and you wanted to go back and re-experience it knowing the outcome in advance.
Some of Your Blood, written in 1961, is ranked as one of the top horror novels of all time by the Horror Writers Association. Although it is not the type of novel that readers of modern horror will recognize. The beauty of this novel is that it does not resort to cheap, supernatural tricks to evoke the emotions. Just some damn fine writing.