[Book Review] NARCISSUS

[Book Review] NARCISSUS

Myths and legends about mirrors and other reflective surfaces appear across many cultures. Chances are, you know a few: breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck; chanting “Bloody Mary” into a mirror three times in a dark bathroom lit only with a single candle summons a ghost; putting a mirror in front of your bed leads to nightmares.

One of the most famous myths about reflections doesn’t involve a mirror, but a pool of water. In a nutshell, this Ancient Greek guy named Narcissus sees his own reflection in some water, doesn’t recognize that he’s looking at himself, and falls in love with the man staring back at him. He doesn’t move from the spot and eventually dies. It’s where we got the word/diagnosis “narcissist.”

Like most folklore, the Narcissus myth has several versions and has evolved throughout history. In his new novella, aptly titled NARCISSUS, Adam Godfrey takes a stab at freshening up the ancient tale.

Four friends—Liam, Gemma, Kate, and Ethan—embark on a Grecian vacay in Mykonos. While exploring some catacombs, Liam leads the group to a restricted area that’s rumored to be home to the mythic cursed pool where Narcissus met his physical end; his soul, as the legend goes, is imprisoned in the water. There’s also a more recent rumor (from thirty-two years ago) of a group of friends who suffered grisly deaths after encountering the pool.

Goaded by Liam, the friends venture into the roped-off depths of the catacombs to find the pool. Find it, they do, and they also look at their own reflections in the water…and then their trip takes a sharp turn from dreamy to nightmarish. Turns out, some myths are true. And some forces are not to be trifled with.

Godfrey delivers a fast-paced and gripping original story in NARCISSUS. It’s creepy and gory, and there’s a grim ending that packs a satisfying gut punch. In a little over a hundred pages, Godfrey brings each character — not to mention the novella’s Greek setting — to life through carefully crafted prose featuring rapid POV shifts that disorient the reader in a way that complements the overall narrative.

Because of the length of the story, you could probably get through NARCISSUS in a single day. I’d recommend it as a beach read, but there’s this scene where…well…you’ll see…

The novella releases on May 2, 2023. You can pre-order the paperback of NARCISSUS here, and the e-book here.

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