REVIEW: And Then I Woke Up by Malcolm Devlin

Malcolm Devlin’s novella, And Then I Woke Up, explores the concept of the truth and the way its many versions influence choice and action. The story’s narrator speaks directly to the reader, helping them adjust to prior events and the new world order. At every turn, you will be left wondering: how much of this is real?

Cover for And Then I Woke Up by Malcolm DevlinAnd Then I Woke Up takes place in a not-so-distant future where an atypical illness leaves monsters in its wake. Survivors arm themselves and seek refuge in groups. Fearing for their lives, boundaries are crossed, and lines begin to blur. Spence is one such individual. “Cured” and living at the Ironside rehabilitation facility, all he wants now is redemption, and he might just find it through a new inmate’s search for her own truth. However, not all may be what it seems. When a disease compromises your ability to define reality, differentiating fact from fiction becomes infinitely harder and trust, almost impossible.

Some books are better experienced going in blind; And Then I Woke Up is one of them. Part of the allure of Devlin’s narrative is the way he twists the perception of reality through Spence’s explanation to the reader. The timeline is not always linear and explores other versions of what happened, complicating and simplifying the story elements all at once. Just when you think you understand the sequence of events, Devlin challenges that idea, introducing new variables for you to consider. This unique narrative structure and direct reference to the reader pairs with Spence’s strong voice to completely immerse you in what’s happening, clearly painting vivid imagery of a world attempting to recover itself.

Grimdark fans will appreciate And Then I Woke Up for the internal struggles the characters experience, the unreliability of the narrative, and the way Devlin constructs a hazy maze where the truth lays hidden. The novella also explores the trauma associated with the consequences of one’s actions and how powerful the framing of the narrative can be both from an individual perspective as well as a societal one: “Macey once told me the problem with the truth was that it was so poorly written. Given the choice, the pleasantly told lie is always more seductive.” Devlin leaves you to draw your own conclusions, especially in regards to what is true.

Thank you to Tordotcom for sending me an ARC of And Then I Woke Up to review.

Read And Then I Woke Up by Malcolm Devlin

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Angela Gualtieri

Angela Gualtieri is a former technical editor and project manager with a love of reading. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s traveling. You can find her at: https://www.instagram.com/agnovels/