The Soul Breaker
reviewed by Carolyn Scott
The Soul Breaker was first published in 2008 in German (as Der Seelenbrecher) and its popularity has since seen it published in several languages and now in English, very ably translated by John Brownjohn. It’s a very dark and gothic thriller set inside a sealed psychological hospital, with the maniac known as the Soul Breaker on the loose.
The Soul Breaker doesn’t kill his victims. He destroys them. Leaving them paralysed and catatonic, reliving their worst nightmares over and over again, in a state from which they will never recover. So far, he has abducted and destroyed three victims, his calling card, a note containing a riddle, left in each victim’s hand.
‘Caspar’ is a man who was found lying in the snow outside the psychiatric hospital. Suffering amnesia, with no recollection of who he is or how he got there, he was named Caspar by the staff. He’s started to have some flashbacks and is convinced he must leave the clinic to get back to his life and someone he feels is waiting for him, but a brutal storm is closing in and the hospital becomes totally cut off from the rest of the world. Things take an even more sinister turn when Sophia, the head psychiatrist is found naked, distraught and unable to communicate, clutching a note in her hand. Another victim of the Soul Breaker.
With the Soul Breaker now locked inside with the handful of patients and staff left before at the hospital before Christmas, they must battle to protect each other, find out which of them is the Soul Breaker and prevent even more deaths. Caspar must also work out who he really is and why he was found outside the hospital. He also needs to work out who he can trust and there are those who are suspicious of him and his apparent loss of memory.
The setting of a near empty psychiatric hospital creates the perfect dark and creepy atmosphere for this gripping and at times graphic read. The characters are all well drawn, although none are ones you can empathise with as the fear and danger brings out the worst in them. The plot is clever and fast paced, with the action and suspense become relentless, with the feeling of a dark and twisted hellish nightmare where no one is safe. Definitely one for those readers who enjoy a chilling tale with more than a touch of horror.
With thanks to Head of Zeus and Netgalley for a copy to read. Expected Publication August 5, 2021.