Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Captivating Magical Mystery Tour

Jess Kidd
Atria Books
May 1, 2018

Cathal Flood lives alone in a mansion filled to the rafters with the detritus of a long lifetime; many lifetimes, in fact. Irascible, cadaverous, and perhaps even dangerous, he had threatened his most recent visiting caregiver. The house is packed with grotesque curiosities, cats, garbage, and even a semi-tame fox. His son Gabriel has given him an ultimatum: get the place cleaned out or be put in a care home, forcibly if need be. Enter Maud Drennan, a psychic young woman with a stubborn streak a mile wide and a nose for mystery. Maud also has a group of patron saints who follow her around and a family mystery of her own. Her sidekick in the investigation is her agoraphobic transgender landlady, Renata. Of course, Renata can only join in from a distance. Mr. Flood's life has been tragic; the accidental death of his wife, the loss of a child, a missing girl, and a seemingly unaccountable animosity for his son. Maud doesn't like Gabriel much either. Maud's sister disappeared years before, and Maud's memories of the events surrounding the disappearance also play a part.

Mr. Flood's Last Resort is impossible to categorize, part mystery, traditional gothic, ghost story, and family history. Reading the novel is much like stepping into a brilliant kaleidoscope, continually shifting and changing. The writing and characterization are top notch. Maud's colorful landlady is particularly well-drawn and affecting. Mr. Floodl is funny, heartbreaking, and horrifying by turns. I haven't read a novel in a long time that captivated me to such a degree. Kidd's first novel, Himself, was a critical success. As I haven't read it yet, I can't make comparisons, a situation that I plan to remedy.

Many thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 5 Stars

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