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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
A man lives in his luxurious high rise apartment, and awakes with a daily routine that only lasts one hour every day, with five minute intervals for every activity. However, there’s always something out of place; a Bible that is supposed to be in the drawer is on the nightstand, nicking his neck while shaving, a car that starts but won’t move. Worse, there are seven strangers that seem determined to ruin his routine. He soon learns his mind is in "a world that gives a soul the opportunity to earn a second chance at life by testing his willingness to survive"－Purgatorium. His physical body is in a coma and he only has eight days before the doctor pulls the plug. He needs to break his routine, avoid the memory-wiping reapers, deal with demons, and let peculiar strangers help him without getting killed in the process.
It wasn’t easy to make sense of Purgatorium by J.H. Carnathan at first. It’s almost like a dark version of Groundhog Day combined with The Matrix. That said, I think it serves its purpose of taking readers on the mind-boggling journey of the lead character. The narrative transitions between purgatory and memories of the protagonist's life. Coupled with his attempts to face his sins and achieve his redemption, putting his trust in other individuals who may or may not be his allies, things are quite chaotic and unpredictable. Everything does become clear as the story moves forward and I can appreciate the plot depth, characterization, the descriptive writing and the ending. Overall, the perplexing nature of Carnathan’s Purgatorium may not be everybody’s cup of tea. Yet, though its brilliance may not be immediately noticeable, its imaginative premise is solidly delivered.