Horror

Book Review: Psycho by Robert Bloch

One-sentence summary:

Norman Bates has a lot of problems; a mother who won’t let him grow up, a financially suffering hotel, and a pile of dead bodies that leave a bloody trail right to his doorstep.


To begin, I should say this review is CHOCK FULL of spoilers. By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the famous Alfred Hitchcock movie based pretty faithfully upon this book.

If you haven’t, then by all means, go watch the movie right now! It’s a classic!

I’ll move forward with the assumption you’re already familiar with the book and the twist.

I listened to the audiobook version of Psycho along with the Goodreads Horror Aficionados group (shout out again to my fellow horror aficionados!) The beauty of participating in group reads: you’re introduced to books you never would have even thought of picking up.

Paul Michael Garcia narrates the audiobook I listened to, and he does a great job. The mother’s voice is cool and chilling, and Garcia personifies Norman Bates’ desperation without being cartoonish.

Psycho is a revolutionary book, and it’s easy to see similarities in many of today’s thrillers.

It delves into themes and language that must have been incendiary and scandalous when published in 1959.

Hmmmmm, gimme just a minute…

OK, I’m a curious bird, so I did some looking and saw that Psycho came out a couple of years after the Ed Gein murders. The public was already inoculated in such things, and likely thirsty for more (not more murders of course, but more coverage).

It’s actually pretty difficult to get any info on how the book itself was received, but Entertainment Weekly makes an interesting point in its look back at the movie. At that time, the horrors came in the form of monsters. They allowed people to get their thrills but still feel safe, knowing these ridiculous monsters wouldn’t haunt them in real life.

Psycho changed that theme and the illusion of safety. Suddenly, the monsters were living inside us. They were the little old lady or troubled young man down the street. They were neighbors.

They were you and I.