The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks


Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆

I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped.


Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank’s mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric’s escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother’s inevitable return – an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.


Jesus Christ this book is fucked up. The main character is an absolute psychopath. It was definitely a fascinating, creepy read.

Frank grows up on an isolated island with a very eccentric father. The story starts with the news that Frank’s brother escaped from the asylum and is making his way back to them. His brother, is famously known in town for trying to get children to eat maggots and for setting dogs on fire.

And yet, compared to Frank, he seems like a reasonable guy. Frank was utterly fascinating. He was also scary as hell. He starts out as a slightly creepy guy, killing small animals. The more we get to know him though, the scarier he gets. Just the casual way he recounts what he does, as if it is the most normal thing in the world.

Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I’d disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmeralda, more or less on a whim.

That’s my score to date. Three. I haven’t killed anybody in years, and don’t intend to ever again.

It was just a stage I was going through.

I couldn’t put this book down. It was so well-written, so different and with such a fascinating main character. The atmosphere was great: the isolation, the lying father, the crazy brother and then our terrifying protagonist.


A creepy horror story, incredibly well-written, with utterly fascinating characters.


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