What if… you could have it all? Wealth. Health. Youth. Power. A fancy house. A garage full of fast cars. The objects of your desire, immediately available. And what if it could start with something as simple as want? Wanting, and then getting. That’s the lure of this thoroughly entertaining morality tale – one which explores just how far an average person will go when the serpent uncoils and offers a bite of exceedingly enticing forbidden fruit.
Although the premise of The Seven Experiments is pretty straightforward, and it’s delivered in the accessible format of a flat-out page-turner, this is a novel of quiet accomplishment. You might imagine that we’re treading shallow waters with the power of positive thinking, making success manifest through visualisation, but author Stephen Kanicki trawls some satisfyingly murky depths.
Initially it’s easy to celebrate alongside hard-up college professor Gary Miller when the first of the seven experiments seem to be working out for him. He seems to be an archetypal underdog, finally having his day. But Gary soon reveals his sinister side and the people around him start to suffer as his fortunes improve. Fans of Mindhunter on Netflix will be fascinated by how Gary’s character evolves; how his inner sociopath rises to take over the reins.
I absolutely galloped through the pages, transfixed by the awful things unfolding and unable to predict what might happen next. And I adored the cameo appearance by the Prince of Lies himself…
You may find The Seven Experiments listed in the sci-fi or fantasy section, but it’s more like a suspense-thriller which veers into speculative / supernatural territory. The superficial story simply serves as a springboard for a challenging conversation about moral philosophy and the human capacity for greedy self-deception. It’s all very relevant at a time when we’re questioning the ethics of our consumer society.
Just how much is enough? And if you could have it all, but someone else had to carry the consequences, would you hesitate?
A genuinely chilling psychological thriller. Can’t wait to read what Kanicki dreams up next.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
The Seven Experiments by Stephen Kanicki is available at Amazon