Threats by Amelia Gray

★★★½☆
Threats
A Novel by Amelia Gray
2012 / 278 Pages

David’s wife, Franny, has just died very unexpectedly, and he is (understandably) feeling overwhelmed and confused.  As he enters the viscous, unforgiving world of grief, the police begin searching for clues that will shed some light on Franny’s untimely and bizarre death.  In the meantime, David keeps finding little slips of paper tucked into strange places of his home (in a bag of sugar, behind a peeling corner of wallpaper) upon which are printed disturbing “threats.”  One of the more troublesome threats reads:

IN THAT HALF SECOND WHEN YOU REACHED FOR THE DOOR, I CAME UP BESIDE YOU, DRILLED A HOLE IN YOUR HEEL,  AND ATTACHED A TUBE THROUGH WHICH I AM CURRENTLY COLLECTING YOUR BONE MARROW.  IT IS GOING INTO A BAG.  I AM GOING TO SELL IT.  (p. 169)

As David’s grief and loneliness become more severe, his mind and memory become increasingly unreliable, and he begins to wonder if Franny might possibly still be alive.  He tries to reach out to a few people for comfort, but his actions are so robotic and strange that he only ends up further isolating himself.

Threats never offers any resolution for David and Franny’s story.  Instead, the novel moves between sharp bursts of reality and fuzzy, dreamlike images.  I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this book and I am not afraid to admit:  I have no idea what just happened.  Reading this novel feels like watching a David Lynch film for the first time – wondrous, confusing, and maddening.  But at the same time, Amelia Gray’s writing is purposeful and blooming with misdirection.  The fact is, if no one in David’s life can figure out what happened to Franny and for what reason, then we’re probably not going to figure it out either.  We have the same information David has, but even that is unreliable.  So maybe she’s dead, maybe she’s not.  Maybe the threats are a part of Franny’s mystery, but maybe they’re completely unrelated.  We’ll never know, because Amelia Gray only gives us enough information to wonder.

About Karli Cude

Karli Cude, previous moderator of Hooked Bookworm, is an avid reader and former bookseller. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in English Literature in 2010 and completed a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences in 2013.