Picador (2010) / Twelfth Planet Press (2016)
Alex Bishop has had his heart broken and his life twisted up in knots by Madigan Sargood. Childhood friends, adult lovers, Madigan’s reappearance in Alex’s life causes havoc, throwing him into chaos and causing him to question his own values and beliefs. Then Madigan commits suicide and Alex doesn’t know how he’s supposed to feel, or why he is driven to find out the reason why. And why he can’t get Madigan out of his head. Literally.
I didn’t know what to expect from this book. Kirstyn McDermott is a known quantity as a quality writer of dark short stories, but the novel form is not necessarily a smooth transition for authors. However, McDermott evolves easily to the longer mode, creating clearly defined characters interacting in a detailed world and sustaining the narrative over the length of the novel, with the thread of supernatural twining elegantly through the story.
I have to admit that I felt the first half of the book was a little slow initially, but it was worth perseverance – the pace is tightly drawn and builds tension, so that the concluding part of the novel is powerful and kept me turning pages quicker and quicker to find the final outcome. It’s an impressive debut novel; McDermott has a dark and powerful future on the nation’s bookstore shelves!
This review was first published at ASiF! on August 31, 2010.