First published back in October of 2015, ‘The Damaged’ was the second novel from British author Simon Law.

DLS Synopsis:
It was during the night of The Great Storm of 1987 when Matthew Mason’s life was irreversibly changed forever.  Just a young seven-year-old boy at the time, Matthew had been woken by a stray roof tile crashing through his bedroom window as the storm outside raged on.  Matthew’s parents had been treating the cuts he sustained from the broken glass when there was a knock at the family house door.  Upon answering it, George Mason was confronted by a tramp on their doorstep, asking to come into their house to get out of the storm.  A request for shelter that George Mason felt too uncomfortable to provide.

However, upon having his plea for help rejected, the tramp bursts into a fit of rage - forcing his way into the family home and attacking George and Sandra Mason.  And as young Matthew watches from his hiding place behind the cellar door, he witnesses his parents being brutally murdered.

It’s now twenty-five years since the untimely death of his parents and Matthew Mason is being released from the mental health institute where he’d spent the past fifteen of those years.  However, fifteen years of finger painting, kid’s cartoons and abuse from overzealous orderlies has left Matthew with a strange disconnection from the real world.  Up until now Matthew’s life had consisted of a brief seven years of childhood happiness, followed by ten years of loveless neglect and abuse from his Aunt Julie, followed by fifteen years of being locked-up and drugged-up with all the other craziness.

But now Matthew Mason was finally deemed to be ready to re-enter society.  Albeit under close watch by a regular visiting carer who would ensure that he took his regular anti-psychotic medication.  And that particular carer happened to be twenty-four-year-old Tammy Atkins.

However, Tammy had her own problems.  Ever since she’d drunkenly crashed her car after snatching her five-year-old daughter from her ex-boyfriend, Tammy’s life had been one long and painful battle.  Now she barely saw her daughter.  She’d quit the alcohol, but instead she’d had found self-harm.  She knew it wasn’t doing her any good – but with her life the way it was, the draw of the razorblades was often too much.

However, now she had a new patient to visit each day.  And he wasn’t anything like the slimy, lonely old men she was used to.  Matthew Mason was different.  Handsome and charming.  And he clearly had an interest in her.

But Matthew Mason had problems.  After witnessing the brutal deaths of his parents, and then having to endure years and years of abuse, Matthew Mason was damaged.  Seriously damaged.  But his medication kept that in check.  Just as long as he kept taking it.  But he was getting pretty sick of the pills.  Sick of feeling completely out of it.  Sick of having a cloudy mind.  He wanted his own mind back.  He wanted a clear head at long last.  And he knew how he could get just that…


DLS Review:
Back in 2009 author Simon Law penned his debut novel ‘Bringing Forth The End Of Days’ (2009) - a post-apocalyptic horror, bursting with adrenaline-pumping action and suspenseful twists.   It was quite simply pure entertainment from start to finish. If you ask me, for a debut it was an absolute blinder.

Six years later and Law has followed-up with a very different offering altogether.  With ‘The Damaged’ we have a hard-hitting psychological thriller which burrows under your skin rather than just exploding in your face.

Pacing is spot on.  Much like Graham Masterton’s writing style, Law pulls the reader in with a solid, very well-written storyline, that’s constantly building towards ‘the inevitable’ from the outset.  There’s no padding, no sagging, no over-describing or verbose meandering.  Indeed, Law’s writing style has come along incredibly well.  It’s neat, straight to the point and full of flair.  I have to say this really is one tight and well-executed novel.

Ok, so the absolute key to this type of novel is in the characterisation.  The story’s basically focused upon two principal characters – Matthew and his carer Tammy.  For the tale to have any degree of impact upon the reader these two characters need to be 100% believable.  They need to be fleshed-out, near living breathing characters with strong, identifiable character traits.  And with his two principal characters Simon Law has absolutely nailed all of these elements.

The storyline itself is one that builds very gradually throughout its length; creeping up the tension chapter after nail-biting chapter.  And around half of the way through the novel things start really cranking up a few notches, with Matthew’s psychotic tendencies starting to come to fruition.  And it’s here when Law begins layering on a surprising (but in some ways utterly necessary) amount of brutality.  I kid you not, ‘The Damaged’ is one hell of a grim read.  Indeed, Law doesn’t pull a single punch with his repeated depictions of violence and tormented mental illnesses.  It’s pretty hard-hitting stuff – so be warned.

That said, Law tackles some pretty tricky subjects in the novel, consistently with a strong-minded and purposefully thought-provoking manner.  Both mental illness and self-harm are tackled head on – the former running through the length of the novel, whilst the latter is depicted in a small number of incredibly powerful and emotionally jarring scenes.  Indeed, Law doesn’t skirt around the subject matters one bit – but instead confronts them openly with a hard-to-swallow honesty that cuts so much deeper.  If you struggle with the concept of self-harm, then this novel is really going to get under your skin.

One final aspect of ‘The Damaged’ that works so darn well is how Law shows Matthew Mason’s gradual descent both from Tammy’s perspective and from behind the eyes of Matthew himself.  As his delusional psychosis starts to really take hold, the reader gets to witness how reality blurs and Mason is gradually coaxed (by his own mind) into accepting the madness that his damaged mind is portraying.  Of course it just keeps getting worse.  And those that happen to come into Matthew Mason’s pathway will sadly pay the ultimate price.

Simon Law proves there’s nothing more terrifying than the madness that ferments within a damaged mind.


The novel runs for a total of 277 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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