Gabriel Utterson loves no one so much as Henry. But they live in a time when a man might be imprisoned or even killed for daring to love another of his own sex. So they must exist in secret, under constant threat and surrounded by only a few with whom they may share their secrets. Gabriel has loved Henry since their days at school, yet there is so much that lies between them. Henry is tortured by the madness that claimed his father and struggles to understand the human mind in all its complexities.
When Henry’s mother is destroyed by a monstrous man-made form of madness, Gabriel is at a loss to help his friend. Henry seems a man bent upon his own destruction, no matter what the cost. Obsessed with making his mother’s killer pay for his sins, Henry becomes single minded in his pursuit of a bloody kind of justice. Gabriel will have to risk everything to save Henry from himself. But even if he manages the impossible, Gabriel isn’t sure how much of Henry’s mind will remain his own.
So, I really disliked The Man Inside Me. I mean, intensely disliked it. But the caveat to that is I think most readers might actually enjoy it. While trying to do this review, I was constantly torn between whether my issues with the book were mine alone or actually indicative of a legitimate problem. I’ve tried to be fair, while giving my own opinion, so bear with me. There also isn’t much I can say about the plot for fear of giving away a huge spoiler.
The one thing that The Man Inside Me gets absolutely right is the mood and setting of the book. The author has done an excellent job of giving us a time and place with feels vibrant and real. There is an eeriness and darkness to the book that captures the bleakness of the story without completely overpowering it.
The writing in this book is rather grating. The author seems clearly trying to use a certain style of writing to add to the overall flow of The Man Inside Me, but it just didn’t work. At least not for me. It felt excessively flowery, convoluted, and complex. Instead of drawing me in, I was constantly distracted and put off by the writing, to the point this nearly became my first DNF.
Henry isn’t a particularly likeable character. We feel for his pain because he has certainly endured a lot, but he uses it as a crutch for his bad behavior, as if it might be justified in some way. He is, in many ways, so mired by his own suffering that he has little regard for those around him. Additionally the “gotcha” aspect of this book was evident a mile off and not very surprising. As a result, I felt a bit let down with what should have been one of The Man Inside Me’s driving plot points. Other readers are likely to feel differently about this and enjoy the multiple themes the book offers.
The Man Inside Me wasn’t an enjoyable read for me. It took substantial effort to finish it and when I did, I was relieved rather than energized. Despite my personal impression, I think readers who enjoy historical and literary themed plots may potentially enjoy this one. So if either of those things interest you, then you might want to give The Man Inside Me a try.