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Book Review: Madigan Mine, Kirstyn McDermott

This is a masterful debut novel by Kirstyn McDermott, written in crisp, clear prose that captures the possessive relationship of the easy-going Lexi and the strangely beguiling Madigan in a chilling and yet, for a supernatural narrative, oh so real way.  Friends since childhood, the bond of affection that once drew Lexi and Madigan together crackles back to life when they encounter each other as adults, thrusting them into a relationship that is as unhealthy as it is compelling. Drawn into Madigan’s world, we see the weird and fawning people who populate it mainly through Lexi’s eyes, and it’s testimony to McDermott’s fantastic writing, that our sense of unease is probably greater than his as the binds that hold Lexi and Madigan start to unravel. When Madigan commits suicide (this is not a spoiler – it’s on the blurb on the back of the book), the story plunges into the extraordinary, taking the reader on a ride that is breathless, original and unforgettable. The characters are beautifully realized as is the love-hate relationship at the core of the novel and the creeping awareness that death is not an end…

A friend of mine read this book and declared that she developed ‘word-envy’. I understand what she means. You taste each word and phrase, savour them in your mouth and mind and admire McDermott for recasting and reweaving tropes into fantastical new metaphors and meanings. I could not put this book down.

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