For some naïve reason, I always associated horror with Stephen King, and him only. When I picked up Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child I did not know that it would turn out to be such a terrifying read.
The book is about Harriet and David Lovatt, an ordinary couple, whose ultimate aim in life is to just have an old-fashioned big and happy family. Their dreams are fulfilled to some extent as they seem to climb the ladder of familial success – having four beautiful children, and hosting large gatherings at their unusually enormous house. Everything seems to be going well… And here comes the dreaded but – the Lovatts’ fifth child is born, and their lives change drastically, taking a dreaded turn they never would have imagined. The book is really small, so it doesn’t make sense to say anything more.
Lessing scares you through a tool that we don’t see used very often – the this-could-happen-to-you tool. I’d strongly recommend pregnant women, or would-be parents to stay away from the book. Even otherwise, the effects of narration and story would stay with you – I know it’ll stay with me. But we won’t give up reading literature just because it showcases fearful or tragic things now, would we?
The short length of the book is a definite advantage, but Lessing does not divide the book into chapters, which might make it tough(er) to read. It’s a breeze of a read otherwise – especially since you want to know what happens. I’d ask you to read this book just to see another view of horror in fiction.