Title: The Morbids
Author: Ewa Ramsey
Published: September 1st 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
Heart-wrenching, heartwarming and ultimately uplifting–a story about the power of a little kindnessA story of friendship, love and what it means to truly live when, sometimes, it may seem easier not to.
Caitlin is convinced she’s going to die.
Two years ago she was a normal twenty-something with a blossoming career and a plan to go travelling with her best friend, until a car accident left her with a deep, unshakable understanding that she’s only alive by mistake.
Caitlin deals with these thoughts by throwing herself into work, self-medicating with alcohol, and attending a support group for people with death-related anxiety, informally known as the Morbids.
But when her best friend announces she’s getting married in Bali, and she meets a handsome doctor named Tom, Caitlin must overcome her fear of death and learn to start living again.
Beautiful, funny, and universally relatable this story of hidden loneliness and the power of compassion and companionship reminds us that life is an adventure truly worth living.
A powerful story defined by moments of light and dark, The Morbids is written by Newcastle based author Ewa Ramsey. Emphasising the impact of mental illness, anxiety, fear and trauma on an individual and their loved ones, The Morbids is meditative piece of fiction.
The complex but highly engaging central character of Ewa Ramey’s The Morbids reminds us of the importance of long-standing friendships, acts of kindness and the spirit of being alive. Caitlin is a woman haunted by a traumatic event in her recent past and the fallout from this incident has directly impacted Caitlin’s overall wellbeing. The lasting reminder of this life changing incident has left Caitlin with a fixation on death. This obsession has wreaked havoc with all facets of Caitlin’s life – from her family relationships, friendships, career choices, living arrangements, to her health. With the help of a support group named the Morbids, Caitlin manages to keep her head above water, but the creeping thoughts of death continue to infiltrate her world. Caitlin must confront some difficult adjustments in her life when her best friend makes plans to marry overseas and an irresistible man helps Caitlin see the world from a different lens. But what happens when the creeping thoughts return?
The Morbids is a novel that is largely unmatched to anything I have read before. The focus on a lead character who has a difficult relationship and obsession with imminent death was a highly original storyline focus to follow. I really appreciated Ewa Ramsey’s intentions with her debut novel. I have to admit that my first impression of this book was no where near what it actually turned out to be. Based on the cover art, I assumed this would be a breezy tale of friendship and perhaps a holiday escape. Instead, I was presented with a very heartbreaking and sensitive tale of a young woman living with serious mental health issues. For this fact, I feel that The Morbids is a brave and essential read, tapping into modern day issues.
Our lead for the duration of Ewa Ramey’s The Morbids is Caitlin. Ramsey releases Caitlin’s back story bit by bit, so we are intrigued enough to flick page after page until we get to the bottom of Caitlin’s true cause of concern. This sets a strong sense of intrigue to the tale at hand and it definitely sustained my attention to this book. Despite the fact that Caitlin does have a lot of issues, she is a relatable character and you can’t help but develop a great deal of sympathy for her. I know I just wanted Caitlin to seek help, heal properly and achieve a sense of enjoyment in life again. But Ramsey makes us see that it isn’t easy at all for those who suffer from mental illness and trauma such as Caitlin. In Caitlin’s case, she does try to overcome her problems, but they come back, at almost double the strength. It is a hard and trying process to constantly deal with anxiety, fear and death. At all times, I was amazed by the level of respect and sensitivity Ramsey applied to her Caitlin’s story.
In terms of the support cast, Ewa Ramsey should be applauded for her efforts in this area of the book. I loved the side protagonists, they were quite the unforgettable set. The wonderful support cast in this tale includes Caitlin’s best friend, family members, love interest, boss, coworkers, support group members and leaders. Ramsey has made sure the periphery cast are dynamic and intriguing. I really enjoyed the interactions between Caitlin and the various characters that fill the pages of The Morbids. With elements of humour, love, understanding, semblance, kindness, appreciation and despair, these actions make for a highly engaging read. Caitlin’s journey is an eventful one and be warned – it is quite the rollercoaster of emotions at times. However, The Morbids will make you want to hold your head in your hands, smile with Caitlin and hug her. Although Caitlin’s road is a tough one to travel at times, The Morbids is well worth the investment.
The heavy weight of dealing with mental illness and anxiety following a life shattering incident is explored with a firm and understanding hand in Ewa Ramsey’s The Morbids. I highly recommend this moving title to all readers.
The Morbids by Ewa Ramsey was published on 1st September 2020 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Morbids, Ewa Ramsey, visit here.
*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Morbids is book #2 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge