You don’t know where this story is going because its narrator sure as hell doesn’t either. When he leaves home, where he wasn’t wanted anyway, to seek adventure and a name in the world, he lands himself a job in the strangest place: a mysterious manor in an equally strange town that grows more and more bizarre, dangerous, and exciting by the page.
The main character is a man named Lucy. He’s a compulsive liar whom no one finds particularly worth befriending. To the delight of readers, he’s often caught in his poor lies. But as a reader you can’t help feel for the guy. All he wants is a bit of respect, a shot at being a man a woman could love. And the poor bastard can’t tell when that woman is right in front of him, and flirting, with a sarcastic wit he takes as insult, on account of his defensive, defeated nature.
By page 15, it’s clear Lucy’s adventure is bound to become a misadventure, which provides incentive for the reader to keep reading: a sense of “what’s next” keeps one the line. The novel achieves what too many don’t: things happen. And you’ll never predict them. What’s up with the war in town no one’s concerned by? Why won’t anyone tell Lucy why he should keep his bedroom door locked at night?
The book is populated by interesting, strong, and memorable oddball characters you’ll miss when you move on to what will inevitably be a lesser book. Take honest thief Memel, who’ll steal what he wants from you but politely return it if you ask (then steal it yet again).
This Giller Prize longlistee is possibly the best book of the year, and certainly a read anyone with a sense of humour or sense of adventure would enjoy. No surprise, since it was penned by one of Canada’s finest, who knows you can combine story and style, and blend character-driven and plot-driven fiction, despite the rulebook on “literary fiction.”
The book is a marvel, worth your money. Don’t miss it. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who likes any kind of book.