Core: A Romance by Kassten Alonso is a self-titled romance. And, in a sense, it does deal with relationships and love, but it may be more accurate to say that the subtitle of this book places it squarely into the Romantic period of literary influence, alongside authors such as Edgar Allen Poe.

This is a very disturbing tale of a man’s descent into madness and violence due to his obsession over a woman. Now, granted, as you flash backwards and forwards in his life, you come to feel that he is not entirely responsible for his actions due to circumstances beyond his control and traumas he has suffered, but still. This is one disturbed gentleman. I’d give you his name, but you don’t get to know that as a reader. Instead, you sit in his psyche and bite your nails as you watch his sanity degrade farther and farther until he is lost.

Now a book like this could easily fall prey to the imitative fallacy and at first I was worried that it would do so. But it settled out nicely within the first chapter and was fairly easy to follow. The writing is very stream-of-consciousness, as you are inside the main character’s head, and you are jumping back and forth between a single present moment, his early childhood, late adolescences and mid 20’s. It was an interesting and well transitioned frame for the story. Overall, I think Alonso managed the mechanics of a challenging form quite well.

Core did bring to mind another novel I read a couple years ago, Lux by Maria Flook. I had the privilege of working with Flook my first term at Emerson and so I read her novel before the workshop so I had a sense of her style. Lux is another novel about a deeply disturbed love affair, handled quite differently, but I am fairly confident that a person who enjoys one of these books will enjoy the other.

Cover of Core: A Romance