See What I Have Doneopens a new window is a completely immersive, utterly coercive, sensory experience. Reading this book is like clawing your way into someone's skin, sitting inside them like an alternate personality. It engages every one of the senses. After it ends you are left with an echo of rotting mutton soup on the tip of your tongue, the smell of rotting pears in your nostrils and the ghost-sound of pigeons' feet walking on the roof just out of earshot, ticky-tack.
YPRL staff member Sarah Schmidt's stunning debut novel takes us deep inside the worm-ridden hearts of her characters. It revisits the legend of axe-murder Lizzie Borden who "gave her mother forty whacks", a story that possessed Sarah to such an extent that the ghost of Lizzie reportedly sat on her bed each night until she put pen to paper. Sarah has a good rummage through the twisted minds of her characters, each of whom is remarkably unpleasant. The narrative is compelling and eerie. There is a strong sense of a family in stagnation and a beautifully etched portrait of a love-hate dichotomy.
You may not like this book. It isn't designed to make you smile. It's unlikely you will be fond of any of the characters, or feel vindicated when the book ends. It's unapologetically dark. But if you want to experience something new, if you want to swim in a book until it seeps out of every pore, you need to read this book.