Review - "The Island" by Lisa Henry
Intense, heart pounding nightmare
Very Highly Recommended
The nightmare starts with Adam Shaw flying in to the small island owned by Vornis off of Fiji. He is to broker a deal to sell a stolen masterpiece to the criminal boss. The deal will open doors for him to make connections to other of Vornis'...stature.
When he settles in on the island, Shaw is introduced to Vornis' toy, a young American agent captured in a botched operation on his stronghold in Colombia. The boy is broken. Little more than an animal, a dog. It amuses Vornis to give him to Shaw for his use while he verifies the authenticity of the painting. And he will introduce Shaw to some of his acquaintances who are due at the end of the week.
It is obvious the boy has been beaten, tortured, starved, and raped. Shaw is not a good man, but he is not a monster. While he is attracted, he will not rape him. Quietly he tries to draw the boy out a little. But the drug and beatings have taken a toll.
"What's the first thing you remember?"
It is what the boy tries to make himself remember every day. One more day that he retains a little of himself before the torture and drugs beat him back into nothingness again.
Shaw does what he can, knowing he is being watched. But he is there to do a job. And nothing will get in the way of that. As long as he keeps focus, he will be fine. And he cannot let the boy take away his focus. Not even if he has to lie to himself. Or be honest about what kind of man he really is.
"Jesus, everybody had some delusion they clung to pathetically to convince themselves they were better than the next guy."
Every day with Shaw brings the boy back a little. He remembers. His name is Lee. He dares to remember a little more. Dares to hope.
"What was he risking now, except his hope? And how much was hope worth?"
But when Vornis starts taking his toy back for use every day, and returning him...used...he starts to fade a little more again. And while Shaw says he will send out a message to his agency, it may be too little too late. They both know it.
And when Vornis' guests start to arrive, it looks as if time may be up.
Will Shaw be able to help Lee, or will business come first, as always? And will the arrival of his guests spell the end of Lee's time? Will the island and the ocean claim him?
This book, this intense, grab you by the throat and choke you, hell of a book is one of the most intense and horrifying stories I have ever read. The claws grabbed me from the first few pages and dug deeper into my gut as the pages were turned. By the halfway point until two thirds of the way through, I was one moment, one page, one sentence away from vomiting from the ball of dread in my throat and stomach.
And. I. Loved. It.
I hated it, I hate losing hope and looking at the edge of a cliff and knowing what lay at the bottom of the hill, or even worse, not knowing and having it hinted at. And yet I couldn't put this spellbinding and amazing book down. I ate it, devoured it over the course of one night and feared nightmares. Could taste the bile.
And then, then Lisa Henry flipped me over and fed me some hope. She had me and I would have been okay, hated it but would have been okay since she wrote the HELL out of this book, but I would have understood. But crafty lady that she is, she put out her hand and pulled me away from the wreck, let me lay my head on her shoulder and take a deep shuddering breath and remember hope.
"Zev wasn't with them in the dream. It was just the two of them, their fingers entwined. Just the two of them and the Pacific and the stars. Stay with me, Lee. And they drifted together in the Milky Way."
God, I drifted up to the stars with Shaw and Lee and it was just a bad bad dream again.