Book Review — Left to You

Title: Left to You
Author: Daniel J. Volpe
Genre: Horror
Pages: Oversize paperback 228
ISBN: 9788755781435
Opening Lines: "Robert Sinclair pushed the wobbly shopping cart down the aisle. The good ones, which the employees hid for themselves, were gone."

 

Rating


"Robert's mother, Helen, is ravaged with cancer. Every day could be her last, and Robert dreads losing the last member of his family. Robert's friend and Holocaust survivor, Josef, tells him an unholy story and leaves him. way to save his dying mother. But, as with everything in life, the salvation comes with a steep price.

"Will Robert accept what's left to him and save his mother? Or will the cost be too high, weighing Robert's soul down to the depths of Hell?".

~ Jacket copy



"What would you do to save a loved one?" Is there any cost too high? Any line you refuse to cross? All of these questions play through the book as the reader follows the agonizing journey of Robert Sinclair, a young man watching his mother die from stage four cancer. Working two jobs to make ends meet and keep in-home hospice for his dying mother, all Robert can do is dread coming home to find his mother dead. However, when a friend (and friend from the local L-Mart) tells Robert a story from his him in Auschwitz, Robert finds himself asking these same questions: Is there a price too high to save his mother's life?


Before reading, I make movie references which might be considered spoilers for the conclusion of the novel. If you're fine with it, continue reading.  If not . . . 

This book has been discussed on The Books of Horror community on Facebook since it was released. Praised for his extreme horror, Volpe wrote a book which would appeal to all audiences of horror. However, while the book deals with common horror tropes, it delves more into the terrifying aspect of human nature. And, honestly, that is far more frightening than ghosts, possessions, or brutal death scenes.  

While struggling with his mother's death—based on her "second wind", it is obvious she is days, if not hours, away from death—Robert receives an invite to his friend's house. Josef, an older gentleman and frequent flyer of the L-Mart, bombards Robert with the story of his arrival and time spent in Auschwitz during WWII. Already dealing with his mother's illness, Josef details his job as one of the men tasked with unloading the gas chambers, watching Jews being executed for simply moving too slow, and his tutelage of a higher ranking SS officer. As a theology professor before the war, Lieutenant Kollmer takes a keen interest in Josef's knowledge, which saves Josef from immediate death. Even though Josef is given an hour reprieve from unloading the gas chambers and fed an officer's lunch, he does not realize his religious conversations hold a deeper meaning for Kollmer.

Sitting in Josef's kitchen several decades later, Robert learns of Kollmer's secret plans for Josef's knowledge. And those plans are the key to his mother's survival. 

At the beginning of the novel, I disliked Robert as a character. His struggle was anguish were well written; however, something about him fell flat for me. As the novel progressed, he got better, and it was easier to see his internal struggle. Except for everything surrounding Sarah. That was a bit of a hard stretch for me to accept as a reader. Josef was . . . Man, the sections in Auschwitz were brutal and amazing!  I read through that section within a few hours. I could not put the book down! It was visceral, compelling, and downright awful! Volpe's description of Josef's reaction to the bodies and desensitization was horrifying! And everything surrounding his "friends" . . . Ugh.

For me, the book fell flat in regard to the unholy secret. While it made perfect sense—especially given the emotional trauma and evil surrounding the Holocaust—the sections about Carafa and his friend were too close to Exorcist: The Beginning. The outcome with Carafa was too predictable, too.  

On the whole, this book was good! The predictability, clichéd tropes, and "meh" character of Robert in the beginning kept this book from getting four skulls.  However, it was still good! And I recommend it whether you're a horror fan or not!



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"If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish.
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