Blog Tour Review: Dungeon Brain by Benjamin Kane Ethridge

This review is part of the Dungeon Brain Virtual Book Tour featuring Benjamin Kane Ethridge’s newest release.

Synopsis

June Nilman is a woman with thousands of personalities in her head and none of them are her own. Stricken with amnesia and trapped in a room in an abandoned hospital, her caretaker, Nurse Maggie, wants her to remain captive forever. At night June hears creatures patrolling in and out of the hospital, and in time discovers Maggie has mental control over them. In planning her escape, June has an extensive catalogue of minds to probe for help, but dipping into the minds of her mental prisoners is often a practice in psychological endurance. Escape seems impossible until June discovers a rat hole in the wall–the starting point of her freedom.

But freedom in this war-torn world may be more dreadful than she ever imagined.

Dungeon Brain is a locked room mystery of the body and mind that expands across the realms of science fiction and horror.

Review

I always find stories with characters that have something going on with their brain, fascinating to read. Be it voices heard, or a mind trick born from mutation; when it’s done right, I love it. While it can lead to a completely different thread in a story compared to a mental disorder, I enjoy being able to read mental disorders in the guise of super-ability. Perhaps that’s not what the writer was going for, but I usually read it as such, and Dungeon Brain is what I would place in that category.

June Nilman’s ability isn’t exactly cut and dried, mental disorder in disguise; there is definitely a special ability present. What drew me to the story in the first place was wondering how a person would cope living in an institution with a head full of individual personalities. The institution doesn’t have to be one to house patients with mental disorders of course, but the description gives a real sense of messing with the mind.

Dungeon Brain was so much more than I was expecting. There’s June, with her uniqueness, but there’s so much more to the world around her. In the beginning she doesn’t know who she is and neither do we as a consequence. Even so, you’re able to learn so much about the world around her, the worlds beyond hers, and varying aspects of her character as well as her captor, via the individuals crammed into her head as she loses her memory over and over again.

Just as the memory lose cycle feels as though it could be on the verge of too much repetition, the game changes. In all honesty, I was actually rather enjoying the memory-loss-memory-found cycle with seemingly differing paths of discovery, but I did appreciate the game change. It opened up the story to a whole new world and I think it really showcased alternate forms of imprisonment, even when dressed up as forms of freedom. While there is plenty of physical facets and physical scenes included in the story, my impression is a story more focused on the mind. Of course there are obvious ways someone can be imprisoned, but I believe other ways are up to how you perceive it all.

I thoroughly enjoyed the world building. I think having June’s journey being intermingled with different areas of the world opening up to her was a great way to learn about where everything is taking place and how everything is working. There are concepts present that have been used before, but I feel quite a lot of it was delivered in an original bundle, with an ending that was just the right amount of questions answered and open-endedness.

Dungeon Brain is a Science Fiction story, but it’s not necessarily sci-fi heavy. The darker underlying, the focus on mental ability and self-awareness, all make for an engrossing, dark, sci-fi, which can be read by more than Science Fiction fans.

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