A sleek, black proof appeared on the staff room table at Waterstones Durham, promising mystery, darkness and a tense, supernatural thriller. First my colleague Ann read, and absolutely devoured it… Then our Lead Bookseller Kat read it and became near evangelical with her handselling of the book. So, I became the Third. It’s rare for me to read Adult fiction, so it has to be something special for me to shift from my comfort zone, but The Three absolutely absorbed me, kept my mind racing, gave me chills… I think it has real crossover appeal in the YA market too.
Black Thursday, a monstrous tragedy that will live on in Human History forever – The day when four planes crashed around the world, simultaneously. Of these crashes, there were only four survivors, three of them young Children, the fourth – Pamela – lived only long enough to record a haunting voicemail message that would go on to send the world into a frenzy. Told in the style of a factual novel about the events that followed the disaster, The Three uses interviews and testimonials, transcripts and documents to track the conspiracy theories that soon grip the world over the three child survivors of Black Thursday. From the religious front in the US, who feel the Three are three of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, to the Japanese cult who are determined that the Three are alien replacements, there are plenty of crazy ideas about the unscathed survivors, but it’s the testimonials of the guardians of the Three, the grandmother of Bobby in America, the uncle of Jessica in England, and the cousin of Hiro in Japan, that really start to unravel the unsettling truth behind the global mystery. Slowly, the frenzies grow and the life of the Three becomes more chaotic, and more dangerous.
To say The Three is a gripping read is to do it a serious injustice. I would read it even as my train slowed into the station. I would gasp out loud in public as plot twists and haunting moments sprang at me, and I would try to second guess them before they happened… And I never did. The strength of this book is the way it blends horror and science fiction, without ever out and out stating it. The Three might be aliens, they might be the horsemen, but Sarah Lotz never lets you know who is right – But by no means does she let you know that they’re anything Normal. The testimonials, particularly Paul’s steady loss of sanity as he cares for Jessica, are absolutely chilling, dark and show the emotionless, inquisitive and unhinged mind of The Three survivors, and give the novel its slow, creeping, building sense of horror that permeates throughout everything in the story. Sarah pulls in aspects of religious fundamentalism, Japanese folklore and subtle science fiction, and by presenting it in the style of a journalistic, factual novel, she’s created a brilliantly realistic feel to the plot, which helps encourage the sense of unease the reader feels throughout. As it goes on, the world of the Three gets steadily more insane, hectic and frantic, with horrific events cropping up constantly, really speeding up unstoppably. And you never want it to stop, either. The book is left open to make your own conclusions, and that’s what keeps it lingering in your brain for weeks afterwards. The closing epilogue opens up a whole brilliant realm of possibility, using a hard, and quantum take on sci-fi. I’d love to know more… But that’s what makes it such a great book.
Pick it up. It’s a hardback, but a gorgeous one, well worth paying a bit extra for. One of the best thrillers I’ve read in years.
Thanks for Reading.
P.S. Always watch for the Fourth.