“One of the best reads of the year.”—Toronto Star
An electrifying debut novel from the Giller Prize-shortlisted author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives that takes readers for a wild ride with urban-gothic flair and delectably wicked humour.
Lucy is a lapsed-Catholic whose adolescent pretensions to sainthood are unexpectedly revived.
It all starts when her cousin Zoltan, in hospital following a bizarre incident at a party, offers her a disturbing deathbed confession. Lucy's grief takes an unusual turn: Zoltan's death appears to have turned her into a magnet for the unshriven. Lucy is transformed into a self-described "flesh-and-blood Wailing Wall" as strangers unburden themselves to her. She becomes addicted to the dark stories, finds herself jonesing for hit after hit.
As the confessions pile up, Lucy begins to wonder if Zoltan's death was as random and unscripted as it appeared. She clutches at alarming synchronicities, seeks meaning in the stories of strangers. Why do the stories seem connected to each other or eerily echo elements of her life? Could it be because Lucy has her own transgressions to acknowledge? And then there is that stubbornly resurfacing past, like a tell-tale ribbon of hair snagged on a fish hook.
With ruthless wit and dizzying energy, The Beguiling explores blessings and curses, sainthood and sin, mortality and guilt in all its guises. Weaving together tales of errant mothers, vengeful plants, canine wisdom, and murder, it lays bare the flesh and blood sacrifices people are willing to make to get what they think they desire.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Before she let her Catholic faith lapse, Lucy obsessed over the lives of the saints. After her cousin suffers a bizarre tragedy, Lucy becomes a lightning rod for other people’s guilt, with strangers constantly approaching her to reveal their darkest secrets. At first it seems like a curse, but soon she’s weirdly addicted to it, putting her on a path to profound self-discovery. Written in a dizzyingly surreal stream-of-consciousness style, each individual confession that Lucy receives is like its own short story, vibrating with pop-culture references, acerbic wit, and beautiful, poetic prose. All these captivating tales of failure, betrayal, and even murder start to make Lucy wonder if they’re pointing her toward a secret she needs to atone for herself. This spellbinding urban gothic left us with a whole new idea of what it means to be a believer.