The Mall by SL Grey

8/10 A fast paced novel full of unexpected twists and turns.

The Mall is the latest work by the enigmatic, genderless author named SL Grey. Set in Johannesburg, South Africa, it is a creepy novel that talks about the futility of the consumer culture.

The Mall is due to be published by Atlantic Books on Jun 1, 2011

Dan works at a bookstore in a shopping mall where nothing ever happens. He hates his job. Rhoda has dragged her babysitting charge to the mall so she can meet her dealer and score some coke. Now the kid's run off, and she has two hours to find him. She hates her life. Rhoda bullies Dan into helping her search, but as they explore the neon-lit corridors behind the mall, disturbing text messages lure them into the bowels of the building, where old mannequins are stored in grave-like piles and raw sewage drips off the ceiling. The only escape is down. Plummeting into the earth, Dan and Rhoda enter a sinister underworld that mirrors their worst fears. They finally escape, but something feels different. Why are the shoppers all pumped full of silicone? Why are the shop assistants chained to their counters?

And why is a café called McColon’s selling lumps of bleeding meat? Just when they think they’ve made it back to the mall, they realize the nightmare has only just begun...

The book is set up from the two protagonist’s perspectives so that each chapter alternates between what either Rhonda or Daniel are feeling and their views on the situation. Both characters are extremely unsympathetic to begin with and it is hard to care about what happens to either of them. But this improves as the book is written in a way that allows us to get to know each character’s motives and motivations that much clearer. I particularly liked the way this was done - as the story develops so do the characters.

The Mall is a fast paced novel that you keeps you reading thanks to its twists, turns and changes of perspectives that ensure that you can never guess the ending. The story becomes deeply gripping, with heart pounding moments of thinking “What the hell is going on and how far can this go?”.

The book’s main strength is that you always really want to know what happens next, and this turns what could have been an average horror story into a great thriller.


SL Grey has an MA in Vampire Fiction and spent thirteen years working in a bookselling chain. The author has also won an award for South African fiction and written a love poem to a zombie...

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