(Please note, the version here on Goodreads is an older version. I have contacted the author and he has confirmed the current version that I have read is under his penname Elias J. Hurst and the residential complex is called Escala Falls.)
If you want to break out of the prison of your life, escape into this arresting novel by Elias J. Hurst. Planning a Prison Break has great characters, elements of drama and horror, and a mystery worthy of a detective.
You should know the title of this novel is a metaphor. It is not about anyone planning a prison break. The story begins in a speakeasy during the Roaring Twenties. It’s a vibrant and exciting time in our history and Hurst writes it well. Just when the story gets interesting, it’s ended by a tragic event.
The next part of the story begins nearly a century later. Isaac Marr wants to break from a prison of sorts. He lives what many would consider the American dream. But his life is monotonous and unfulfilling.
Then he meets Taylor. His first encounter with her goes haywire when what he believes is a hereditary mental illness manifests itself. Miraculously, Taylor forgives his aberrant behavior because she believes it’s caused by a shadow-man who’s been haunting her dreams for most of her life.
Isaac’s mental stability worsens. He quits his boring job, hoping this will free him from the nightmares. But it doesn’t. By a twist of fate, he comes across legal documents referring to the luxury building he lives in called Escala Falls. He knows the dark history of the land on which this building was built, but these documents hint at something more. He can’t help but examine them. His investigation leads him to Taylor’s father who reveals a dangerous secret. More comes together as the past ties into the present and the relationships between the characters are revealed to be even more inextricably bound.
From the very beginning, I was invested in the fate of the characters and immersed in the world Hurst created. Isaac’s desperation and entanglement urged me through each page in hopes the mystery would be solved.
Isaac is a compelling character. Though his lifestyle isn’t one I can relate to, I empathize with his feeling that life is a prison. Haven’t we all been in that place in our life where we felt everyday was one pointless day after another? Haven’t we all wanted to chase a dream only to find ourselves locked into the drudgery of employment?
There are a few confusing scenes where I wasn’t sure if Isaac was dreaming or in the real world. And I didn’t quite understand how Taylor’s presence triggered him to dream of the same shadow-man. The shadow-man’s motivation is also not entirely clear. But then again, the purpose of his manifestation is part of the mystery that kept me reading.
I did not care for the ending of the story. This is not a fault. I just prefer stories with a happy ending. Still, the ending has literary merit. It’s a twist you will realize you should have seen coming.
Planning a Prison Break has characterizations, horror, mystery, and unexpected twists that are reminiscent of a Stephen King novel. I’m not a huge fan of King because of how his novels tend to end. But I appreciate his writing style and the quality of his work. And I feel the same about Planning a Prison Break. The lack of a happy ending aside, this novel is well worth reading.
Buy the current version on Amazon – Planning a Prison Break