Title: FOE
Author: Iain Reed
Publisher: Scout Press Publishing
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Pages: 272
Book Source: Hardcover

“We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.

In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other.  One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm… very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won’t have a chance to miss him, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.

Told in Reid’s sharp and evocative style, FOE examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale.” – Amazon

Scott’s Review

foe

/fō/

noun: foe; plural noun: foes

an enemy or opponent.

synonyms: enemy, adversary, opponent, rival, nemesis, antagonist, combatant, challenger, competitor, opposer, hostile party; the opposition, the competition, the other side, the opposing side;
rarecorrival, vier

“these horsemen were a well-armed foe”
antonyms:  friend

I plowed through FOE in a matter of two days coming up for air to eat, sleep and shower.  I even brought it to work with me and read it in between telephone calls.  It was pretty much unputdownable from the moment I started reading it.  

So the story goes that Junior and Henrietta live out in farm country.  They have a barn. They have chickens. Junior works at a mill. A stranger shows up one night and congratulates Junior on successfully being drawn for the first lottery at OuterMore.  He goes on to explain to Junior and Henrietta that if things continue to go well, Junior could go all the way and be a part of the Installation. Unfortunately, declining is non-negotiable and whether he likes it or not, if he’s chosen – Junior’s leaving for a very long time.  

The story escalates from there in more ways than I care to count.  Despite the fact that most of the book takes place in this husband and wife’s farm home, it is a pretty wild ride and quite frankly, that’s an understatement.

“You show up here, at my home, I say, out of the blue, and you announce that I might have to go?  Regardless of what I want to do? I never asked for this. This isn’t normal.” 

Part of what made this story so good is how believable Iain Reid made it out to be.  I suppose that’s the art of good storytelling though, right? I don’t think for a second, I’m going to be chosen to be a part of the Installation, but the author’s words and the way in which the book is composed had me believing this could actually be true.  

I really found myself relating to Junior in so many ways.  He loves his wife. His life isn’t so bad. Maybe it’s not full of champagne and caviar, but he’s happy, content and he enjoys his routine, regardless of how bland it may seem to the outside looking in.  You want to show up out of the blue, tell him he needs to leave and that he doesn’t have a choice? I felt so many emotions when I read this book: hope, love, sadness, happiness, rage, frustration, and anger.  

“I couldn’t put it down.  It infected my dreams. A creepy and brilliant book.” – Zoe Whittall, Author

If someone handed me my hardcover copy of FOE and told me to place it into a genre, I’d politely decline.  I can’t do it. I’ve been thinking about this for the last two days and there’s no way I could do that.  Not on my own, anyway. Amazon has it listed as a psychological thriller and I guess I’d have to agree. It’s so much more than that.  I feel like ‘psychological thriller’ is selling it short. It’s a drama novel. It’s full of suspense. It’s full of mystery. It’s full of love.  It’s full of so much raw emotion that I couldn’t stop turning the pages simply due to the fact that I HAD to know how this ends.  

You know the part in every Scooby-Doo episode when they rip the mask off the monster and it’s, like, the gardener or the librarian who has done all of the haunting?  And you yell out loud “WHOAAAAAAAAAAAA!” because you’re blown away and how in the heck could poor ‘ol Mrs. Harrison do such a thing?  …that’s pretty much how the ending of FOE is. 

And without giving away anymore of the storyline, I shall leave it at that.I felt sad when Junior and Henrietta felt sad.  I felt anger when they were angry. I was genuinely upset when they were upset.  It was powerful. It was emotional. It was unique, intriguing and at times, it was so bizarre.  I found myself on a few occasions yelling out, “What in the actual hell is going on right now?!” and my co-workers looked at me really strange on Monday afternoon, but that’s beside the point.  Highly recommended!

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