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The Parentations by Kate Mayfield

I just love a crazy book. And this is properly kooky, and all the better for it.

This story follows a number of paths, with some intriguing groups of people.

Two sisters who sleep for huge parts of the year, in shifts, but always walk the same route of one London park every year, wondering if this is the year ‘he’ will come back. Oh and they don’t age.

A ragtag family who seem to hate each other, with a controlling paranoid woman at the head who is hiding mysterious blue vials around their home – who is being plotted against. Oh, and they don’t age either.

A mysterious group in Iceland, who live near a mysteriously blue water source. And guess what, they’re not exactly spring chickens either.

Are they immortal? What links these weird and wonderful characters?The story then moves back to the eighteenth century and we start to get the full weird and wonderful tale, with complex links between the people, and twists of identity, situation and circumstance.

This was simply, a pleasure. It’s a wonderful gothic high drama, with a sneering operatically fabulous villain who is ten steps ahead of everyone – each one is crueller than the last. There is humour, mystery misery and double-crossing. There is such an interesting central mystery, which is crammed with historic detail quirks of each period it touches and a touch of Icelandic culture. It kept me interested from start to finish. Whenever a character dies, it’s heartbreaking, when someone outwits the antagonist – however briefly – you want to cheer. Despite its length I would happily revisit this gothic world should the author want to expand its scope. However, this quality of prose and such an expansive plot makes her second novel, whatever it may be, one to watch.