The Patient Routine
by luna rey hall
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Pub Date 16 Jun 2023 | Archive Date 15 Sep 2023
Ashton is convinced they are dying. whether it be from cancer, heart disease, or a fungal infection, they know something bad is always about to happen. after a night of health-related panic attacks, & urged by a voice in their head, Ashton decides to check in to the ER again but when another patient is brought in with an unknown ailment that puts the entire hospital on lockdown, Ashton may be trapped in their worst nightmare.
A psychedelic, propulsive stream-of-consciousness narrative that feels at times claustrophobic, at times conspiratorial, and at all times curiously suspenseful. Unlike anything I've ever read."
— Nick Cutter, author of The Troop
"Filled with frantic death energy. Entrancing, gruesome, and heartening too. hall's lyrical hospital saga shows that we are small inside the grandiose mortality machine."
— Hailey Piper, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Queen of Teeth
"the patient routine is a merciless, anxiety-charged, possible-apocalypse, possible-zombie thriller, long narrative poem about the body in maddening conversation with itself. luna rey hall takes us through the terrifying halls of a hospital in lockdown while deftly exploring an immensely personal journey through the shifting realities of an over-medicalized mind, a body snared in systems that do not understand or serve it. The tension between inner and outer worlds is relentless and the body horror hits all the worst/best buttons while raising philosophical questions of identity and power. What a torturously smart little book."
— Joe Koch, author of The Wingspan of Severed Hands and Convulsive
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 67 members
I don't usually enjoy verse but I thought the format really added to the unsettling, unreliable narrator vibe of this book. The body horror was top notch and a couple of scenes (especially the tonsil stone one) made me physically ill. The portrayal of a queer protag and mental illness were sympathetic without being saccharine or one-dimensional. A fun anecdote: I happened to read this the day before I had to go to the ER for a bad allergic reaction, so I was worried about finding worms in every corner for my entire visit.
Wow it was delightfully dark... very dark body horror mixed with mental problems. I have never read such a book in my life. I recommend this to readers who like their books morbid and gruesome.
Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity and free arc.
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
What can I saw but wow! A horror written in long-form verse from the perspective of Aston as they enter a hospital. The author does a beautiful job of describing the main characters feelings, I had to stop mid verse and call a friend to read them a second because it was so well written. With that being said, Ashton is a lot sometimes and man did I go back and forth with liking and hating them 😅. The writing is so intentional, the more you get to know Ashton, the more they make sense, which is great because it’s written as a stream of consciousness and it can be hard to tell what’s just in Ashton’s versus really happening. And if I’m not mistaken, the book takes place in a single day?? Lastly the format. I know it won’t be for some but it really worked for me. It reminded me of Ellen Hopkins books that I read in high school, a nice bit of nostalgia to add the the experience 🥰.
The patient routine is filled with body horror, some unsettling imagery, mental illness, some nods to how bad the US healthcare system is, LGBTQIA+ struggles (the disrespect with the pronouns floored me 🙃), and so much more. I honestly flew through it once I actually sat down to read it versus picking it up here and there. I’m so stoked I got to read this. Thanks so much to Luna Rey Hall for sharing this work. I need more of a backlog because I’m obsessed now.
TW: Mental illness, violence, death, suicide, self harm, transphobic behaviors
What an incredible read! This book was unnerving and beautiful in it's own sense. It touches on how healthcare systems treat repeat patients and transgender individuals. It is a book that deserves additional read throughs and a full dig-in as there are surely underlying messages and meanings. The way the story is written is haunting and anxiety inducing. It is so wildly unique and I would love to see another story written similarly. I ate this book up in one sitting and cannot wait for more from this deserving author.