by Jamie Mollart
The story of a successful ad-man’s descent into insanity told in alternating scenes: from his current post-breakdown life in a psychiatric unit, and the months immediately before when he was working on a new advertising campaign for a Dutch Bank – the tainted account that ultimately brings his drug and alcohol-fuelled world crashing down.
In the present, James Marlowe finds himself sectioned and incarcerated, living a life of almost constant horror, beset by frightening and paranoid delusions; a fantasy life staged on a set made of bizarre and horrifying hallucinations. Abandoned by his beloved wife and child and shunned by fellow inmates, James lives in terror of The Zoo, a collection of children’s toys – plastic figures who exert a malevolent hold on his imagination.
The Zoo is a mesmerising story. Bleak and dark, devoid of even a chink of hope until the absolute end, it is brilliantly well written, without an ounce of fat or padding. It had me hooked from beginning to intense and extraordinary end. Powerful. Astonishingly good. A truly remarkable début.