There are few things in the world that make me happier than new books. A cup of tea after a long day, fancy stationary, and a hug from the Bearded One may beat it, but not by much. So when I woke up to a copy of Burnt Island on my doormat from Salt Publishing I was one happy bunny. Though new to her writing I was nevertheless eager to get my teeth into some fun, non-university reading.
Though Thompson’s latest book far from fun, it is a riveting puzzle full of darkness and intrigue. Described as ‘an ironic satire on literary ambition’ it both enthralled and baffled the hell out of me throughout. My first experience with this author, I am intrigued to read more of her work so see how else she can move me.
The first few chapters are slow moving, carrying you along on a gentle tide with little exposition or explanation of plot, characters or indeed backstory. It is, in its way, incredibly refreshing not to be spoon-fed every little piece of information about your character in the first few pages and it certainly keeps you reading past the first chapters.
The prologue immediately tells us that our protagonist, Max, is dealing with some kind of issues as he discusses his feelings with his therapist. Despite this, he seems like a fairly normal guy during his arrival and first days on the setting of the title, Burnt Island. His gradual descent into madness is chronicled well, illusion blending with reality to leave the reader as disorientated as the increasingly desperate narrator.
As a writer myself I found myself empathising with the dreaded writer’s block suffered by both authors in the book. Though I have never felt the need to plagiarise others work I can certainly see where the motivation for such a vile action could come from. Though this blatant ‘twist’ is immediately apparent to the audience, Max’s skewed perception of reality stops him from seeing it until it is too late for him and he succumbs to the strange effect of the island on his already damaged psyche.
This books is a great read and just right for a creepy horror/mystery story that will keep you interested until the very end. A great mix of good, bad and interestingly complex characters keep it feeling very real and the pace is fast and almost a little disconcerting, adding to the overall tone of the novel. I would recommend, and have indeed already told the Bearded One it should be next on his reading list.