That Hideous Strength

Our rating: *****

Mark Studdok’s love for his work, no, his love for being part of some important proceeding, has kept him away from home so much that his wife, Jane, is regretting ever marrying him. She has begun having very disturbing dreams, which are interfering with her goal of remaining a capable business woman. A company called the N.I.C.E. (National Institute for Coordinated Experiments) has made the college Mark works at an offer for a piece of land called “The Wood.” Mark joins the “progressive” side that wishes to sell the land, as the N.I.C.E.’s wish to bring their headquarters there would greatly benefit the college. So the land is sold and within days, workmen begin cutting down the wood, turning people out of their homes and generally creating havoc. What does Mark care? Lord Feverstone, another member of the college, (you may remember him as Doctor Divine from the first book) has offered him a job with the N.I.C.E. Mark accepts and finds himself engrossed in a dark world of intrigue, agendas, and a complete disregard for all humane feelings.
Meanwhile, Jane discovers that her dreams are actually coming true. She talks with a friend about it, who introduces her to a group of people dedicated to fighting the evil that the N.I.C.E. has brought about. But the group is small. How can it hope to succeed? They can do very little. Meanwhile, they wait, now doubting, now sure, while that Hideous Strength grows stronger.

I sat down to try and condense this amazing book into a summary and goodnight! It just doesn’t condense! That was the gist of it, but there’s so much more. Mark discovers that the N.I.C.E. is actually run by dark forces, and… Whew, it makes a tingle run up my spine just to think about it. This is a great book. As a warning, if you don’t handle mad scientist well, be careful with this story. There are some pretty detailed descriptions of the absolutely disgusting results of an experiment on a dead man. The N.I.C.E. is all about getting rid of red tape and being allowed to do whatever it wants to do. This is not in any way a “light and fluffy” storyline, but it’s hard to put down. The Meeting in the first chapter might bog you down, but don’t worry—it picks up quickly after that.

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