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BOOK REVIEW:  “The Price” by Alexandra Sokoloff

What is the price of desperation? In our darkest hour, when it seems impossible to change the course of some terrible path or fate, be it death, disease, poverty or pain in our lives, what price are we willing to pay, whether consciously or unconsciously? I would give anything… We’ve all whispered those words at one point or another when we have reached our breaking point, when the world simply seems too much of a weight to bear and the pain too great to survive. However, upon reflection, one must wonder just who or what might have been listening to those wretched, hopeless pleas? Demons? Angels? The Devil himself waiting in the wings to swoop in and “comfort” us with promises and bargains, bargains that inevitably leave us more damned and destitute than before? It is said that we should be careful what we wish for, but is wishing and hoping the same thing? Could the incessant need to cling to hope unfortunately mutate into a selfish wish that could cause us to forsake our dignities and, even worse, at times our souls? In our darkest hours are we destined to become damned?

In THE PRICE by Alexandra Sokoloff a prestigious Boston District Attorney by the name of Will Sullivan finds himself teetering on the brink of such desperation when his young daughter is brought to the edge of death by a ravenous, untreatable illness. His entire life Will has been the high-powered DA, a man with a beautiful wife and his sights set on becoming the next governor of Massachusetts. However, after weeks wandering the halls of Mercy’s Children’s Hospital watching the tragic patients in the rooms around his daughter’s deteriorate into madness, Will has found himself questioning everything he has ever believed in, including the very fabric of reality. Suddenly, he has noticed a strange new trend amongst the patients after meeting a darkly elegant “counselor” by the name of Salk. Quadruple amputees are seen with limbs again, an officer fatally shot and brought to the hospital D.O.A. is up and walking around the next day, a boy with incurable leukemia is suddenly sent home as his illness goes into remission. Will also begins to stumble upon hallways that seem destined for another time and place, nuns with hollow eyes and twisted faces and strange gardens with statues that seem to move and follow him in the darkness. These delusions only add to the panic the “miracles” Will has witnessed inspire in him until he is driven to seek out the guidance of the mysterious counselor, Salk, who continues to encourage Will to cling to his hope.

The elegant madness with which THE PRICE transports the reader into the shoes of the main character is mesmerizing. Sokoloff’s enchanting ability to weave a tale as old as time itself with such an invigoratingly fresh voice is brilliant. I found myself instantly drawn into the novel from the very first paragraph, captivated by Sokoloff’s masterful writing style and swift-flowing, silken storytelling that made me long to read more when I found myself away from the novel. It is a rare occasion these days when a story ensnares my attention so that I actually crave sitting and reading it, but THE PRICE had this wonderful effect on me. The characters are solid and believable, their actions flawlessly realistic and intensely relatable. The contrast Sokoloff defines between the starkness of the actual hospital and Sullivan’s supposed hallucinations is breathtaking heavily underscoring the division between reality and insanity he is struggling with. However, despite the cyclone of fantastic darkness THE PRICE delivers page after page, Sokoloff manages to keep a tight grip on the bridle of this horse, reining it in at just the appropriate times to keep the pace consistent and straightforward, something I felt her previous novel THE HARROWING failed to do at times. Sokoloff has definitely refined her mix of the ultimate surreal with mysterious, suspenseful horror to create a stunning new literary creation. THE PRICE is a novel you can easily lose yourself within and is a tale you will long remember, even after the last page has been read. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a love of horror or suspense novels.

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