This review is based on an advanced review copy, supplied by the publisher.
As a borderline hoarder myself (like so many of us book fanatics) I was fascinated to see the idea used as the central premise of a horror novel.
Peter Grish's mother, Anna, is a hoarder. She is also the classic "crazy cat lady", sharing a house full of all the accumulated detritus of her life with an unspecified number of cats. There's something else in the house, strange red bugs which carry a parasitic infection. The infected become connected to a sort of hive mind, with a desperate imperative to spread. There's a sub-plot about her other son, who died in rather nasty circumstances, and Anna believes the voices she hears are her long-lost older son. An accident involving one of the heaps of stuff in the house falling on her brings her living conditions to light. She's taken to hospital, where her insanely fast recovery mystifies the doctors. Social worker, Rebecca Shoemaker, is sent to investigate. She tries her hardest to help Peter do what seems to be best for his mother, but things spiral rapidly out of control.
The infection is spreading, and Peter soon finds himself fearing for the lives of his children.
It's a dark, scary novel, occasionally leaning towards the revolting (but, hey... parasites. What else would you expect?)
It's very well-written, with well-drawn characters. If I were to criticise at all, it would be that it's all a bit too bleak from the get-go. Peter and his family already face serious financial problems, due to the failing economy. In fact, no one in the book seems especially happy before things start to go really wrong. I generally prefer there to be a little light in the darkness for the heroes to strive for, but that's just my personal taste.
It has a satisfying conclusion, which leaves things open for a sequel. Despite my reservations, I think Alan Ryker is an author well worth watching.