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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
If you’re going to write horror fiction, why not base it on actual recorded medical anomalies? That’s what Dr. Frank Leon treats his audience to in A Monstrosity Among Men…except there’s more than one monster in this frightening tale. With macabre developments that make even Stephen King’s weird characters and events look mild, Frank Leon will make fans of horror fiction shudder with delight. His story begins with young Max, whose father abandons him to the aberrant demands of his demented mother. She, too, abandons him, but once reunited with her as a young adult, Max’s vengeful bloody murder of his mother is vicious.
Now, this is where the novel takes an interesting twist. The doctor in charge of Max’s psychiatric care is Dr. Frank Leon. If the story ended with Dr. Leon’s study of Max, the story would be scary enough, but the good doctor takes us way beyond Max’s story into that of his son, John. If Netflix were looking for a new script for a bizarre Halloween story, this would make an excellent chiller thriller. If bloody gore is your reading choice, you’ll get it by the bucketful with this one. This story is based on two recorded medical anomalies that provide the source of our discomfort. The first is Capgras Syndrome, “a rare condition in which someone believes their loved ones…have been replaced with doubles or imposters.” The second is Cotard’s, or the “walking corpse" Syndrome. With that rare condition, the person believes “part of their body is missing, or they are dying, dead, or don’t exist.”
Have I got your attention yet? I remember watching Night of the Living Dead and thinking it was nonsense. But, after reading A Monstrosity Among Men, I am not so sure about that. Just to remind you, this book is written by a doctor. Are Max and John figments of Dr. Frank Leon’s imagination, or does someone like them exist in his patient files? Hmmm.