Griffin Rinaldi is not your average teenage kid but he tries to be. He plays basketball, is starting to date and loves hanging out with his cousin Tanner. He also has depersonalization disorder, sometimes he feels disconnected from his body, and at times he doesn’t know if he’s dead or alive. Griffin has had a rough childhood, his abusive father has recently died and he keeps seeing a red-haired kid who no one else can see. Griffin is struggling to keep his sanity and his soul.
Whether you like The Disembodied by Anthony Hains or not will come down to how much you like to think. This book may be light on action but the characters are complex and interesting and there is a good mystery as to what is really going on here. Also to me it seemed like the setting itself was a character in the story. Most of it takes place during a rare blizzard in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Some of the themes that are present in this book are: dealing with abuse, mental illness, dealing with loss, death and there is a coming of age story also.
This book would be classified as horror and makes it an original horror novel is that it looks at real life horror while it also looks at the supernatural. Part of the mystery here is to see how the real life horror is causing the supernatural to happen. This book is filled with deeper meanings if you look for them. One of my favorite scenes was when Griffin was out on a date and saw his girlfriend’s dad and wondered what it was like to have a normal father. This was such a simple scene but heartbreaking.
The best part of this book is the characters. I liked how the point of view in the story changed back and forth from Griffin to his Grandfather Soren. I was sold on this book from the beginning as Soren recounts how he went from an awkward kid to a witty adult who was great at telling ghost stories and writing novels. We then see that Griffin is like him in several ways and Soren seems like the only one that can help him and relate to him the most. Later in the story there is a major twist and we see that their relationship isn’t what we thought, making the story that much more interesting. At the center of this story is a kid who is just trying to be normal but there is nothing normal about his situation and he has to work at making the best life he can have. Throughout the book I found myself rooting for Tanner and Griffin to defeat their demons and find happiness.
Personally I think The Disembodied is a great horror novel, I could relate to the characters in it. Even the ones that come across as evil (like Griffin’s father) or overbearing and paranoid (like Veronica) came across as realistic and someone you might meet in your everyday life. This is the kind of book that you should read if you like to analyze people and try to figure out what makes them tick. Anthony Hanis is a professor of counseling psychology and it shows in this book. You can teach a class on why every character is the way they are in this book. The Disembodied is a deep and complex horror novel that fans of psychological horror will love.