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The Only Child by Andrew Pyper (Book Review) @andrewpyper @orionbooks #Dark #Psychological #Horror


Sent to me by Orion Books in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: 08/06/17

Publisher: Orion Books

ISBN: 978-1409161103

Format: Paperback, 304pp

Genre: Psychological Thriller/Horror

Rating: 4/5

Summed up in a word: Fractured

First Impressions

When I saw that The Only Child was being compared to Steven King, I was immediately intrigued. Andrew Pyper has crafted a mesmerising narrative that shrouds itself in mystery until the reader reveals the black heart hidden at its centre. I had a great time with this book. Stuck between two conclusions, either Lily has truly lost her mind, or the unnamed killer she faces is the real deal. I recommend this to all readers who love a dark story that is rife with thrills and horror. Full review below.

Book Synopsis

A psychotic patient with two impossible claims.
A leading forensic psychiatrist on the edge.
It’s not just Dr. Dominick’s career that’s in danger…

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Lily Dominick has evaluated the mental states of some of the country’s most dangerous psychotics. But today’s client – a man with no name, accused of the most twisted crime – struck her as different from the others, despite the two impossible claims he made.

First, that he is more than two hundred years old and personally inspired Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevenson in creating the three novels of the nineteenth-century that define the monstrous in the modern imagination.

Second, that he’s her father.

To discover the truth behind her client, Dr. Dominick must embark on a journey that will threaten her career, her sanity, and ultimately her life.

Taut, terrifying and impossible to put down, The Only Child is perfect for fans of Lauren Beukes and Stephen King.

My Review

The Only Child is one hell of a reading experience. The story follows Dr Lily Dominik, a psychiatrist at the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Centre. Her main job is dealing with the diseased minds of psychotic individuals and she loves her job (I know… this book is very eerie). Lily has a history of psychological issues, having found the mutilated remains of her mother when she was 6 years old. Her mother died in a bear attack in their cabin in the woods, according to the police report, and she has been coming to terms with that for her whole life.

Lily knows deep down that it wasn’t a bear that killed her mother, but she can’t unlock the memories of her 6 year old self. This is the reason she followed a career in psychology, plus she is very good at analysing broken minds. This all changes when an unnamed patient is brought to Lily for assessment. The charming, and brutally psychotic, individual is making absurd claims that cannot possibly be true. He is claiming to be over 200 years old, Lily thinks he can’t be serious. Patient 4687-A is about to show Lily how serious he is. He has the answers Lily wants, but there is a heavy price to pay for closure.

The Only Child was a cracking read that is fundamentally a psychological thriller but has deeper elements of horror/fantasy running through it too. The main reason I loved this book was the back and forth between Lily and Patient 4687-A (or Michael, after the war angel). Their dynamic is awesome and you never know whether Michael is full of s**t or he truly is who he claims to be. This book is heavily influenced by Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson and Bram Stoker (who are all included in the narrative) as well as Steven King and many other horror writers.

Lily is certainly the star of the show. She is a professional with integrity and expertise but she has always been questioning her own mental stability due to her past. Lily is a brilliant central character, disturbed but sane at the same time. Her story combined with Pyper writing was a fascinating combination.

“She has a gift for the job. One that goes beyond her exceptional performances on exams and the workaholism that was mistaken for ambition but was in fact the comfort she felt walking the asylum’s halls. She finds music in the shouted obscenities and hellish moans emitted from the cells.”

Lily’s mental insecurity is thrown into overdrive upon meeting Patient 4687-A, he knows intimate details about her life, her past and what is going on in her head. Lily is about to fight tooth and nail to find the answers she wants and avoid being killed in the process. Patient 4687-A is the other stand-out element to this book. Masterfully insane, intellectual and imposing, he looks like a man but behaves like a monster. I loved the dynamic between the two main characters and the development of their relationship.

I thought Pyper’s writing was spot-on. He wasn’t hesitant to go ahead with a bizarre plot, in fact he pulled it off with outstanding confidence and it is such a easy read. I read it in no time at all. Dark, horrific and far-fetched, but also determined and dynamic, Pyper’s writing in The Only Child was a treat. A hectic plot filled with many twists and turns, some amazing and unpredictable characters; and brilliant writing by Pyper makes The Only Child definitely a book to have on your TBR this summer. I have given Pyper a 4/5 stars because The Only Child is a remarkable read and I highly recommend it to all psychological thriller/horror readers out there.

Pick up a copy of The Only Child here: Orion / Amazon UK / Goodreads

About Andrew Pyper

Andrew Pyper was born in Stratford, Ontario. He received a BA and an MA in English Literature from McGill University in Montreal, as well as a law degree from the University of Toronto. Although called to the bar in 1996, he has never practised law.
Andrew is the author of a string of bestselling novels, including LOST GIRLS, which won the Arthur Ellis Award, and THE DEMONOLOGIST, which won the 2014 International Thriller Writers Award for Best Hardcover Novel.

Find out more at or follow him on Twitter @andrewpyper


3 thoughts on “The Only Child by Andrew Pyper (Book Review) @andrewpyper @orionbooks #Dark #Psychological #Horror

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