Mind over Mind by Karina Fabian grips you from the first page. Eighteen year old Deryl – or Ydrel as he prefers to be called – hears voices in his head that make him act in certain ways, and because of this he’s been in a mental asylum since he was 13. He doesn’t believe he’ll ever get out. Dr Malachai seems quite happy to keep him a patient forever and hopes to make some kind of mark, and hopefully money, with his studies of Deryl. It looks pretty hopeless for Deryl, but then a home-schooled, precocious, over-confident psychiatric intern, Joshua, is sent in to try and make friends with Deryl. Apart from friendship, Joshua plans on bringing neurolinguistic programming to bear in helping out the troubled teenager. He has some success but then things seem to get worse. It turns out that Deryl isn’t imagining the voices. Various beings from other worlds are calling on him for services such as advice and foresight and even to perpetrate crimes. In fact, an entire alien civilisation is depending on his help to survive a war. Not surprisingly Deryl is overwhelmed by his unwanted telepathic abilities which he doesn’t understand and can’t really control.
This is a paranormal psychological novel, unique and amazingly effective. It’s brooding, bordering on the dark. There is an air of menace, particularly around Dr Malachai with his ulterior motives for keeping Deryl as a helpless patient. There is some romance, and a few light moments, but generally this is a serious, powerful novel that explores how to differentiate between fact and fantasy. Hero Deryl is conflicted and socially inept – grumpy and rude on the outside but in desperate need of help and support on the inside and so Joshua is a ray of hope. The real world of the hospital and the blundering efforts of family and suspect methods and motivations of Dr Malachai to help Deryl are sharply and well portrayed. So too are the fantastic realms of the Barin and the Kanaan. We get a real feel for their plights. The interaction between these parallel worlds facing physical destruction with Deryl in hospital facing a mental battle and possible breakdown is both poignant and ironic. This novel is a superb piece of writing and a more-than-promising start to a series.