Yes, dear readers, Norman Bates is back. Thanks mostly to author Chet Williamson who did an impressive job bringing back to life this lunatic motel keeper who has a penchant for embodying his dead mother and killing people in showers. Sure, original author Robert Bloch did pen more than one sequel during his lifetime but, having been all underwhelming, it took PSYCHO: SANITARIUM (Canelo publishing) to finally do the original novel justice. Never mind that the wait was long time coming (more than 50 years, not counting the previous follow-ups).
As in Bloch’s PSYCHO, the narrative in PSYCHO: SANITARIUM is clear, to the point, with a bit of more pizzazz. The Williamson touch I call it, meaning he makes it his own while moving the plot along with Norman’s arrest and his confinement in a psychiatric hospital. What then follows is a moody, scary engaging thrill-ride where you get the chance to meet a bunch of well-defined characters. You’ve got psychiatrists, orderlies, nurses, and of course, fellow patients who are far from being the only ones making Norman’s stay unpleasant. You even get to meet a distant relative of Norman’s who may or may not be what he seems. When people connected to our resident psycho start disappearing, then all hell breaks loose. But is Norman really back to his old tricks?
I wish I can say that he is, but that would be revealing too much. But trust me, you have to go through the motion of reading this thing to find out. Not that the revelation is such a gasp worthy moment, but you’re never sure of your hunch until the last chapter. In addition, there are a couple of scenes that will certainly give you the creeps or make you even more aware of your gag reflex. Now on to the big question: is PSYCHO: SANITARIUM as memorable as Robert Bloch’s PSYCHO? No freaking way. How can you top an infamous classic such as this one? But it is a worthy follow-up that does deserve the stops, if only to rekindle with Norman Bates and his pushy mama.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Until next post—Martin