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The Unbegotten

Novel by Bill Garnett 1981.

Susan Sheldon seems to have her life in order. She enjoys her job, which is well-paid; and has just moved in with John, with whom she is very much in love. But just as everything seems perfect, she finds out that she is pregnant. As she knows John wants children and would oppose an abortion, to avoid any possible conflict with him that would threaten their bliss, she keeps her secret and has the pregnancy terminated behind his back. And from that moment, things start happening: strange noises in the house, unexplained marks on the walls and things being moved about. And then the cat is horribly mutilated. With her nerves on edge and her guilt growing deeper, Susan is slowly going insane.

Bill Garnett's pet theme is the journey into insanity, which he has dealt with in three of his four books; and whilst this is not his most enjoyable work - the impressively different The Shadow must take that honour - it is however possibly the best treatment of the subject. And though dealing with the female mind is a daunting task under normal circumstances, Garnett achieves a more than satisfactory result, proving himself once again a master of character. Limited as a horror novel though with a superb ending, it nevertheless works extremely well as a portrait of a deteriorating mind.


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