The absentmindedness. The nonsensical ramblings. The blank stares. Ward Ayers, physically disabled and confined to his Jersey Shore home, can only watch in dismay as his beloved wife Malina slips further and further into dementia.
But when Ward catches a glimpse of a strange appendage in place of Malina’s tongue, he fears the woman he’s loved for half a century isn’t succumbing to Alzheimer’s but transforming into something…not quite human. As he tries to make sense of his wife’s disturbing changes, he starts wondering if he’s the one losing his mind.
Until, finally, Ward uncovers the dark force behind Malina’s decline and must plumb the depths of sacrifice and selfishness to reclaim his wife and preserve humanity’s future.
Horror used to happen mostly to kids. Whether it be teenagers at Camp Crystal Lake or in Derry, Maine, a large majority of horror stories and films are about teenagers. Lately there has been a gathering trend in horror of stories that involves the elderly as the victims and heroes. I am all for it. I love these stories. When I heard the advertisements for Malinae by Josh Schlossberg, I knew it was a must read.
Malinae is about Walt Ayers and his wife, Malina, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Walt is also eighty-six, and his body is not in the best shape anymore. He still spends his days keeping his mind active with an adult coloring book and a steady stream of caregivers that take care of the two of them. One of the caregivers, Celeste, displays some behavior that raises suspicions within Walt, that she is doing some things with Malina that just does not seem right. This makes Walt start to do some sleuthing, and when Walt discovers some weird things going on with his wife and her connection to Celeste, he tries to stop her before it gets out of hand. Of course it gets out of hand.
This is another short novella that does a great amount in a small space. Even though it is not very long, the story is well developed and suspenseful. There are a few times when a large amount of action and plot moves in one page, and then it settles down again to a slower, more suspenseful speed. I like the characters, even though Walt is someone who would irritate me in real life. He is written in a way that makes him seem very demanding to her caretakers and the people around him; he is always ordering people to do things but not acting very appreciative of their help. I know that his caregivers are being paid for their services, it does not seem like Walt is very thankful for the help he receives.
As someone who does direct patient care in hospitals, I can see these two characters because I have taken care of both of them several times. Maybe this is why I enjoy horror stories with elderly characters. Not only do I like that there is a different set of life experiences and thus decision making skills, I also feel like I relate more to the older population than youth these days. Everyone in this novella, especially Walt and Malina, seem very real to me. The writing and storytelling is spot on.
I really enjoyed Malinae, and the big question that I asked myself while reading it. Is the character going through this because of medical issues or because of outside influences? Trying to figure this out makes a story to admire and recommend.