This book was not for me.
No, no, no!- do not let that dissuade you!
Here’s what it looks like:
If you are a fan of a Gothic writing style with a Gatsby twist this is the book for you, and in that respect boy, does it ever deliver. Christine Mangan has her Masters of Fine Arts in fiction writing and her PhD in eighteenth-century Gothic literature and it shows. Her use of a sentence structure, vocabulary and story-telling pace gears the reader up for a dark and twisted yet subtle psychological thriller. Set in the mysterious, hot and dangerous streets of Tangier at the precipice of the International Zone’s immersion with Morocco in 1956, Mangan sets the backdrop for an unsettling story featuring two troubled and haunted protagonists.
Alice has left her life in England behind to move with her new husband, John, to Tangier. He relishes in the adventure of its dark and twisty alleys and its flourishing markets, but Alice finds herself floating amidst an uncertainty about the place, refusing to leave their home and struggling with the ghosts of a not-to-distant past. Enter Lucy, an old American buddy of Alice’s from her time at the prestigious Bennington college. Lucy arrives, uninvited, to find a frazzled and delicate Alice on the verge of some kind of mental struggle. This provides a prime opportunity for Lucy to get close to Alice and John, resulting in dangerous liaisons and causing obsessive patterns to emerge in their questionable friendship.
The book is brilliant in its unassuming terror. The story and the terrible predicament that befalls our leading ladies is slowly exposed throughout the tale and Mangan is in no rush to reveal, savoring long, airy and exotic descriptions of characters and locations, and delivering, when required a terrible, somewhat frustrating (for me), and twisted ending. Readers will enjoy Mangan’s ability to bring Tangier to life, the subtlety of evil disquiet that surrounds her characters, and the almost Fitzgeraldian-Daisy description of Alice herself.
Why was this book not for me? I am easily frustrated by hearing the intricacies of characters who are mentally unstable, and in this respect, Mangan excels and hits the mark completely. If you love a triumphant villain and a good set-up, this is your tale.
Please keep a weather eye on the literary horizon for this debut novel. Its scheduled release is in March 2018 and it is well worth your time.