The M.D.: A Horror Story

by Thomas M. Disch | Horror |
ISBN: 0425132617 Global Overview for this book
Registered by winggorydetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 6/17/2024
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by winggorydetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, June 17, 2024
I got this paperback in a hefty batch of books from friends who are decluttering.

It's billed as "a horror story" - and so it is. From the title I assumed a medical thriller, but the story opens with a young boy being told by the nuns at his Catholic school that Santa Claus doesn't exist - told in a pretty harsh manner, with additional details about the historical bishop Saint Nicholas, who supposedly restored life to three youths who had been killed by a butcher and thrown into a pickling tub. (Yes, the irony of a nun decrying one myth while insisting on another, much more grisly one, was pretty blatant.) Anyway, the kid in desperation summons the Santa that he has been able to see, and eventually gains a powerful magical talisman that can cause great harm or can heal, but not both on the same person. From the cover-blurb it's clear that the boy will grow up to be a doctor and will wield his magical/cursed/? caduceus with horrific results, but the story moves slowly - at the halfway point he's only just hit his mid-teens. Still, it has some unusual twists and some very chilling incidents: a very young child with that much power is likely to do great harm without meaning to, and so it happens... {shudder}

I found myself reading the whole thing even when I thought I'd want to skim ahead; it was the details, of young Billy's life, of his extended family and their ups and downs, of the various people whose paths crossed his for good or ill, that held my interest. That, and some lovely turns of phrase in the writing - there were scenes of great beauty as well as those of great horror.

By the end of the book, there's been a significant time-skip, allowing Billy to grow up and become a wealthy and influential doctor with an expansive medical organization under his leadership - and with a wife and a couple of children, whose appearance is glossed over almost entirely in-story. Oh, and another son from a teen relationship, one who's now a member of a fanatic cult - that's not going to end well...

And, yes, there's a plague, called ARVIDS, which is decimating the country, leading to draconian measures involving blood tests and isolation and forcible transfer of victims to special facilities. Billy - now William - is involved in the study of possible cures, but of course one has to wonder if he caused it, and if so, how. (That's revealed near the very end of the story - not a huge surprise, but a point of interest.)

I will say that the way William's various uses of the caduceus interact and, eventually, unravel was quite intriguing, and I was pleased to have connected some of the dots from the story's earliest incidents to those at the very end. There were relatively few sympathetic characters, though, and the very end of the story seemed to veer off into a different direction. Still, it kept me involved!

Journal Entry 2 by winggorydetailswing at Vandenberg Esplanade in Lowell, Massachusetts USA on Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Released 3 wks ago (6/25/2024 UTC) at Vandenberg Esplanade in Lowell, Massachusetts USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I plan to leave this book, bagged against the elements, on a bench along the esplanade; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in MA here.]

Released for:

** 2024 Allergic to A challenge **

** 2024 Never Judge a Book By Its Cover challenge (cutout theme). **

** 2024 52 Towns in 52 Weeks challenge. **

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