Morphosis by AJ Saxsma book review
book review

Book Review: Morphosis

MORPHOSIS by AJ Saxsma is a haunting horror story fraught with tension. Check out more of what Lindsay Crandall has to say in her book review of this indie novel.


by AJ Saxsma

Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / LGBTQ

Print Length: 141 pages

Reviewed by Lindsay Crandall

A haunting horror story fraught with tension in which the monsters aren’t always just killers.

May 1987. Ollie Hooper and his family relocate to a rural farm in Larton, home to approximately 3,800 people.

Hooper is an ambitious man desperate to prove himself. He has taken a job with the Sheriff’s Department, leaving his partner, Dwayne Brenner, as the primary caretaker to Hooper’s two children, Jodi Lee and Sam.  

When a murder is reported to the Sheriff’s Department, Ollie becomes consumed with catching the killer, who is dubbed The Visitor. 

Dwayne struggles to adjust to his new normal, balancing Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and his own illness with raising two children.  He experiences his fair share of homophobia as a gay man in small town America in the 80s. The local pharmacist refuses to fill his prescriptions, leaving him dangerously low.  

Although his illness is never explicitly named, it’s easy to assume what ails him. On top of his own personal struggles, Dwayne attempts to guide Jodi Lee through her fledgling adolescence and first crushes in a new town.  Unfortunately, Jodi Lee rejects any help and is befriended by the daughter of the town priest. Dwayne’s medicine slowly starts to go missing; his home is being bleached and disinfected daily; and Jodi Lee won’t face him without a mask covering her face.

As the Visitor turns out to be a serial murderer, Ollie sleeps in his office or at the Department, ignoring Dwayne’s pleas for help. Neither man finds support in this new start that they both so desperately needed. After a particularly heated exchange, in which Hooper tells Dwayne that he cannot stop the world every time he needs something, he quietly responds, “where’s my support?”

It may be early in the year, but I have a good feeling AJ Saxsma has just delivered one of my favorite books of 2023.  

Morphosis operates with an undercurrent of tension exacerbated by a cast of characters all chasing something: Ollie is chasing the approval of a father that refuses to speak to him at the expense of a partner who loves him. Dwayne is seeking a support system after losing his own family over his choice of partners. Jodi Lee is chasing acceptance after her first heartbreak, allowing herself to be easily manipulated by the first person in school to show her kindness. Sam is just chasing anything and everything it seems; he flies in and out of the story in mad dashes like any five-year-old boy. The Visitor storyline overshadows some of the complex relationships and circumstances each character found themselves in, but I still leave this novel feeling thrilled.

Morphosis is a tense LGBTQ horror novel that you aren’t going to forget.

Thank you for reading Lindsay Crandall’s book review of Morphosis by AJ Saxsma! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.

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