The Book of Luce - LR Fredericks

March 20, 2018

4/5 Stars

 

Slippery yet engaging novel with David Bowie homage aplenty.

I went into this book pretty much blind, without any clue about what it was about. As a result, for the first 100 pages or so, I was completely befuddled, but then I fell into the strange rhythm of the book and ended up enjoying it immensely. 

 

 


It's about a writer (Chimera Obscura / 'The Scribe') who is on a mission to uncover the truth about a rock-star / Gnostic messiah known as Luce; or Peter Lucian, Lucie, Luce or many other names, depending on who he speaks to. 

The book cuts to the past, with Chimera Obscura talking to various people about Luce and trying to discover who he or she really is. The only problem is, he's got people on his tail; people who want to get to Luce and smother the truth about what's really going on. I say people, but actually folks, they're demons; astral projections with the capacity to kill. In the modern day, Chimera Obscura is working towards the completion of the book - his lifetime's obsession.

So, what can you expect when you read this book? Firstly, if you're looking for an easy read, this isn't it. It's a beast at over 530 pages, and many parts of it are deliberately obtuse and slippery. I felt like I had a grasp of it, but then there were sections that baffled me. It's that type of book, and as a result, perhaps not for everyone. 

However, I found it easy to look past this confusing narrative style, as there were so much hidden Bowie references going on here that it made me instantly warm to the author (as someone who has just included a Bowie character in their next book, I automatically like other authors who are under his spell!). The references to Bowie are sometimes obvious (Luce shares his birth-date and like him, is chameleonic and androgynous), and at other times a little more subtle. What I really liked was that the author captured that adulation that Bowie generated in others - the true artistry of creating a persona that was worthy of worship. 

The pacing of the book was likewise very good - although it was a long read, it kept me reading on with interest. There's a rich host of characters and some very way-out ideas (be prepared to encounter plenty of esoteric notions - and to never be sure if it's real or a spun-out acid trip). 

Overall, if you like books to challenge you, which don't automatically follow the conventions, but instead offer something a bit new and different, then you'll love this. If you're looking for a breezy beach-side read, this probably ain't for you.

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