Official Review: The Bedwetter by Lee Allen Howard

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joshfee77
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Official Review: The Bedwetter by Lee Allen Howard

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[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Bedwetter" by Lee Allen Howard.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Bedwetter is a horror novel by Lee Allen Howard, a personal journal exploring the mind of a psychopath. Russell Pisarek is twenty-six. He lives with his sister Becky and his four-year-old nephew Aiden. Russell works with rabbits at an animal testing facility. He still wets his bed, a problem carried over from his childhood. As a kid, he also lit fires and killed animals, the other two components of the "homicidal triad" of a serial killer in the making. He has a cat-skin rug he stitched together during his adolescence from the cats he killed. As he says in his journal: "I keep it as a reminder of what being treated like sh*t does to me." From the age of six, he has regular dreams of murdering his abusive mother in a horrific way. Now an adult, Russell struggles to fit into society. With a part-time job and his continued bedwetting problem, making adult connections is difficult. But he has an admirer in Uma, the receptionist at his work, whom he longs to shave as per his dark fantasies. One night in a dream, he sees an apparition he calls The Piss Fairy, who sets him on the dark path toward his true destiny...

From the first page, Howard pulls no punches. The opening scene, Russell's dream of killing his mother, is excellent: raw, coarse, and sickening. We know immediately that the author of this journal has major psychological issues. There are some great illustrations of Russell's inner turmoil about his bedwetting: "I got a urinary tract infection once. NO, IT WAS NOT AN STD—I was just a kid." This neatly shows his paranoia that the reader of his journal will immediately think the worst of him. He recalls his hatred of his abusive mother, "Melanoma" (Melanie) indirectly at times, such as when discussing his nephew Aiden: "Never once have I tied him to the kitchen table. I changed his diaper a ton a times and never teased him or screamed at him for wetting. Not ever, NOT ONCE." Russell clearly has major pain and resentment from the abuses he suffered during childhood. We see his regular flashes of anger in his capitalised words and phrases such as those above.

The unique spellings and special phrases in Russell's journal (such as "for realz" and "LOLz" and "spuke") are intentional, the story written in his own personal inner language. He also includes occasional smiley faces and some great phrases peculiar to him: "He dirtylooks me." Applied regularly along with capitalisation and exclamation marks, these add realism to Russell's personality. Russell's characterisation is so good that when he placed a personal ad to find a female with whom to share a house, I accurately predicted his reaction to the first response to his ad even as I read it.

I also like the flashes of humanity we occasionally see from Russell, such as his admiration for his sister and his love for his nephew. It's good to see he isn't just a monster and that he does have some love in him, despite his mistreatment as a child. I actually grew to sympathise with him somewhat, despite his unhealthy psyche and inhumane tendencies, simply because of his mother's abuses as he grew up. Russell definitely seems more a case of nurture (abusive mother and absent father) than nature (genetics). Setting the book as a journal in the first person is a great way to generate empathy from the reader. I also found the book's ending stark, powerful, and satisfying, with many loose ends from Russell's past tied up neatly.

Concerning negatives, there are a few minor typographical errors, but I found less than ten in the entire book. There was nothing else in this book that I didn't like, so I rate The Bedwetter 4 out of 4 stars. It is a brutal, dark, compulsive read exploring the sick mind of a killer, from an abusive childhood to an adulthood filled with pain, rage, and confusion. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys psychological horror about serial killers; just be warned: it is graphic, violent, sickening... and brilliant.

******
The Bedwetter
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Post by Dragonfly6 »

This is a very well composed review! I feel that you accurately warn of the possibly triggering or offensive material, while giving the information you found most compelling. I am looking forward to reading this book since the primary character narrative is conveyed through journaling. Thank you for a great review!
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Post by kandscreeley »

Russell sounds like an interesting and terrifying character. I'm thinking it's too horror-ish for me. I am not sure I could handle being in the head of such a psychopath. Glad you enjoyed it, though.
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Post by sri varshini303041 »

This book reminds me of the film, "Silence Of The Lambs". The cat skin rug was too similar. Have you seen it? The book sounds scary and also disturbing.

Thank you for the well-thought review. I get the feeling that you enjoyed the read.
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I have to admit, the title caught my attention. I find horror stories fascinating. I'll check this one out.
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Post by kdstrack »

The author does a good job of connecting the abuse with Russell's behavior. I really enjoyed your review, but this book has too much dark material for me. Thanks for the interesting writing and insightful comments. Always enjoyable.
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Post by Prisallen »

You know it is great character development when you empathize with a psychopath! This sounds like a really dark book. Thanks for a great review!
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Post by joshfee77 »

Dragonfly6 wrote: 20 Apr 2019, 04:24 This is a very well composed review! I feel that you accurately warn of the possibly triggering or offensive material, while giving the information you found most compelling. I am looking forward to reading this book since the primary character narrative is conveyed through journaling. Thank you for a great review!
Thanks! I really liked the raw and genuine feel to Russell's journal. Having it written in his own inner language, with his own little expressions, made it all the more compelling.
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Post by joshfee77 »

kandscreeley wrote: 20 Apr 2019, 09:13 Russell sounds like an interesting and terrifying character. I'm thinking it's too horror-ish for me. I am not sure I could handle being in the head of such a psychopath. Glad you enjoyed it, though.
Yeah, I've had a strong fascination with these guys since I was fairly young. I can't really explain why, I just do. Getting into the mind of a psychopath and trying to understand their twisted motivations is an endeavour both frightening and rewarding for me. Guess I just have this inbuilt need to try and understand why people do the horrible things they do. Thanks for your comments.
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Post by joshfee77 »

sri varshini303041 wrote: 21 Apr 2019, 09:22 This book reminds me of the film, "Silence Of The Lambs". The cat skin rug was too similar. Have you seen it? The book sounds scary and also disturbing.

Thank you for the well-thought review. I get the feeling that you enjoyed the read.
Yeah, Silence of the Lambs was a great film. I have long been fascinated by psychopaths and serial killers. If we are to combat evil in this world, I feel we should at least attempt to understand it. Thanks.
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Post by joshfee77 »

Nyambura Githui wrote: 21 Apr 2019, 15:27 I have to admit, the title caught my attention. I find horror stories fascinating. I'll check this one out.
Yeah, if you like horror, I doubt you'll be disappointed by this one. Gripping stuff. Thanks for commenting.
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Post by joshfee77 »

kdstrack wrote: 21 Apr 2019, 20:21 The author does a good job of connecting the abuse with Russell's behavior. I really enjoyed your review, but this book has too much dark material for me. Thanks for the interesting writing and insightful comments. Always enjoyable.
I love really dark books like this that explore the faces and hearts of evil, but I can fully understand why many people don't. There are also times I just want to watch a good comedy! Thanks.
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Post by joshfee77 »

Prisallen wrote: 22 Apr 2019, 18:46 You know it is great character development when you empathize with a psychopath! This sounds like a really dark book. Thanks for a great review!
Yes, very dark, and a great effort by the author to create sympathy for a psychopathic killer. Thanks!
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Post by twenty7d »

well the review makes me want to read it a bit lol I'm not a horror person but I do tend to compromise on a good story line. really loved the review looking forward to reading the book ...
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twenty7d wrote: 25 Apr 2019, 04:48 well the review makes me want to read it a bit lol I'm not a horror person but I do tend to compromise on a good story line. really loved the review looking forward to reading the book ...
Very strong story and characters; just be aware it pulls no punches! Powerful stuff. Thanks for commenting.
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