Tom Lee examines horror of isolation in new novel

Things of this world are in so constant a flux, that nothing remains long in the same state. — John Locke

Change is an inevitable part of life. However, some changes are more abrupt or gradual than others like a pebble or a boulder plopping into a tub. The way a disease or illness can change an individual’s day-to-day life can vary in a similar way. Our latest read takes us through the mind of a man who finds himself with a sudden affliction.

The Alarming Palsy of James Orr by Tom Lee

When James Orr woke up one morning to discover that half of his face had collapsed, he had hoped it would only be a temporary issue. When doctors diagnosed him with Bell’s Palsy, he believes that everything will shortly return to normal. Faced with his half paralyzed face, James finds himself on leave from work and with little to fill his days while his wife is at work and his children are at school. To occupy his time, he takes to wandering around the woods within his private community.

Set against a suburban backdrop, readers will increasingly feel uneasy about James and how he goes about his life. His increasing fixation on an odd structure in the woods and his slow-simmering resentment will keep readers flipping the page to understand what exactly is happening to this man until the final page. As audience’s view James’ suburban life from his perspective, the seemingly innocuous changes to his life gradually take on a sinister gleam.

Tom Lee blurs the lines between reality and sanity with a deft ease that examines the impact of the isolation related to disease, while also creeping toward an unexpectedly dark nightmare.

From the book jacket…

“James Orr — husband, father, reliable employee and all-around model citizen — awakes one morning to find half his face paralyzed.

Waiting for the affliction to pass, he stops going to work and wanders his idyllic estate, with its woodland, uniform streets and perfectly manicured lawns. But there are cracks in the veneer. And as his orderly existence begins to unravel, it appears that James may not be the man he thought he was.”

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Readers looking for more suburban horror will delight in the murderous thrills of “The Whisper Man” by Alex North. The book revolves around the disappearance of a child taken under eerily similar circumstances to those of a serial killer that had previously stalked the town 30 years earlier. Those looking for a loftier chill will find Stephen Chbosky’s “Imaginary Friend” to be unexpectedly bloodcurdling.