Sunday 31 July 2011

Review: Doc Mortis by Barry Hutchison (Invisible Fiends)

Kyle wakes up in the Darkest Corners. In this hospital the surfaces aren't clean, and the instruments aren't used for healing. But it's about to get much, much worse. The doctor is ready to see him now...

Tomorrow morning The Book Zone will host the first stop in the fortnight-long Doc Mortis blog tour. We will be bringing you the first instalment in an exclusive five-part short story that Barry has written for the tour, detailing the events that led to the creation of the most diabolically evil Invisible Fiend to date. As a prologue to this special event I thought I would publish my review of Doc Mortis for you today.

I love the Invisible Fiends series, ever since I first read Mr Mumbles back at the beginning of 2010. In a way, I view the series as horror's answer to Harry Potter as Barry has created a series that, although targeted at the 9+ age group, can be enjoyed by teens and adults just as much. Substitute the young protagonist for an adult, and the series would work almost as well and would in fact make a superb 18 certificate horror film. in fact, the series almost works as a homage to the various sub-genre of horror films: I have previously likened Mr Mumbles to the slasher movie; Raggy Maggie is most definitely more akin to the serial killer flick; and book three, The Crowmaster, is a hybrid of Jeepers Creepers and Hitchcock's The Birds, in my mind at least. When reading Doc Mortis two films sprang immediately to mind: The Human Centipede because of the experiments that Doc Mortis carries out and Saw because of the sheer sadistic nature of this character, although Barry's description of the Darkest Corners hospital in which he operates would also fit perfectly in that series of films.

Doc Mortis is a fantastic read, and the Invisible Fiends series is just getting better and better with every book that is released. This book follows on immediately after the events of The Crowmaster and things are not looking to hot for Kyle. As well as having to contend with whatever Invisible Fiend is thrown at him next, he is also now wanted by the police who suspect him of murdering his Aunt Marion. He is also is a pretty bad way following his battle with The Crowmaster, who unbeknownst to Kyle managed to infect him with a virus that pulls him into the Darkest Corners, and will possibly keep him there for good, or at least for as long as he can survive the creatures that live. Just before the virus kicks in and takes him away from the hospital to which he has been taken, Joseph, Kyle's mysterious guardian angel, warns him that: "There's someone in the hospital. Someone worse than anything out there. Worse than anyone you've had to deal with so far. You've got to stay away from him." Worse than Caddie? I was scared already!

Of course, when Kyle opens his eyes he is still in hospital, but this time in the Darkest Corners version, a building that is dirty, rusting, blood-stained.... as far away from the sterile ideal of a real world hospital as you could imagine. But is the hospital's inhabitants that are the really terrifying part of this book: aside from Doctor Mortis and his dirty,rusty implements, there is Wobblebottom, possibly the scariest clown you are ever going to read about; Patient #217 and his fellow hospital porters; and grimmest of all, the various children that Doc Mortis has 'helped' over the years. Hot only does Kyle have to fight his way through all of these in order to find the cure that will take him back to his own world, but this time he has to take a small boy under his wing and keep him alive as well. This young character adds a touch of pathos to the story, and you may be a little surprised by your emotions come the end of the story, especially with regards to the actions of a certain character from a previous Invisible Fiends book.

Barry Hutchison has outdone himself yet again; I don't know how the man copes with the pressure that he puts himself under as every book he writes raises the bar even higher. The next book in the series is titled The Beast, and I believe it is due out in January 2012. If it is anything like the previous four then it will be a cracking build up to the sixth and final book in the series. However, that is some way off at the moment, so I will leave you with this fantastic full-body image of Doc Mortis, illustrated by the equally fantastic Jonny Duddle. Be afraid!


  1. It sounds incredibly creepy and I can't wait to read it. Thanks for preparing me for the scares to come.

  2. Ive only read Mr Mumbles at school.That was TERRIFYING. I really want to read Raggy Maggie as she is featured in Mr Mumbles. I looked it up on google images and the German cover for Raggy Maggie looks like it came out of Bioshock or something like that.