Whenever I say ‘Psycho’, I always think of the Talking Heads song. Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better.
However, today we aren’t discussing the song. Instead we’re going to talk about the book by the same title, written by Robert Bloch in 1959. At the beginning of 2019 I went on a bit of a mission to read more books, and this was the second novel I picked up and is certainly my favourite of this year.
Many people know Psycho from the Alfred Hitchcock film (1960), which I have to admit I saw before I read the book. Even more embarrassingly, I didn’t know it was a book until I’d seen the movie a few times. I’m sorry, book bloggers. Disown me at your earliest convenience.
DESPITE THIS, the book was still full of twists, turns and surprises and had me gasping out loud as if I was watching the actions of Bates unfurl before my very own eyes.
Psycho, the book
Ok, so for those of you who don’t know, Psycho is about a young girl, Mary Crane, who steals £40,000 on a whim from the Estate Agents where she works. She hopes to use the funds to pay off her boyfriend’s debts so that she might marry him.
Unfortunately, Mary gets lost on the highway and checks into Bates Motel, run by Norman Bates. However, Norman, who is a fat, middle aged man who still lives at home with his mother, isn’t as innocent as he first appears. Mary’s trip is cut short tragically, and the events which unfold around her will send a shiver down anyone’s spine.
I SHOULD WRITE BLURBS! What a decent summary that was.
As I mentioned earlier, I saw the film before I read the book and knew how the story ended. But as we all know, films are almost always based loosely on the book (and Psycho is actually based on serial killer Ed Gein) and hold far more depth, character development and storylines.
I’m not going to spoil the book/ film for anyone reading, but Robert Bloch writes as if you were with the characters every step of their journey. Whilst not overly-descriptive as some authors can be, Bloch nails the characters mannerisms and mentality without giving the game away, right up until the plot twist at the very end.
And oh, what a plot twist it is. It is said that Alfred Hitchock made a big to-do about buying up all copies of the novel so that the ending wouldn’t be spoiled, and if that doesn’t allude to a crackin’ twist then I don’t know what does.
Horror novels can become quite tedious and not at all scary, but Psycho is written to such a level of sophistication that even whilst tucked up in bed, you’re still scared shitless. Maybe invest in some plastic sheets before you begin reading?
Although short, this book is concise, to the point, yet doesn’t skip out on any crucial details. The fact that the events in the book happen so quickly leaves you feeling out of breath and dying to catch up, right until the last page is turned.
This is definitely a novel that I wasn’t able to put down, and one who stayed with me even after completion.
“I think perhaps all of us go a little crazy at times.”
– Robert Bloch, Psycho
As I say in every review I write, I’m not good at writing them (so why do I keep trying?). I give Psycho a 5/5 stars and trust me, this is not something I do lightly. Only two other books have been awarded full marks, and that is Manson by Jeff Guinn, and Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. So, I must really like it.
If you decide to read it based of this review (or not), let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your opinions too. You can also find me on Goodreads, if you’re so inclined!
PSST! If you liked this blog post, then I think you’ll enjoy my review of the Graduate Book and Film!