Monday, 9 May 2016

The Mirror World of Melody Black - Gavin Extence


It all starts, as these things sometimes do, with a dead man.

He was a neighbour, not someone Abby knew well, but still, finding a body when you only came over to borrow a tin of tomatoes, that comes as a bit of a shock.

At least, it should.

And now she can't shake the feeling that if she hadn't gone into Simon's flat, if she'd had her normal Wednesday night instead, then none of what happened next would have happened.

And she would never have met Melody Black . . .

Wild and witty, searing and true, THE MIRROR WORLD OF MELODY BLACK is about the fine line that separates normal from not - and how life can spin, very swiftly, out of control.

What did I think?

I absolutely loved this book; the author completely laid himself bare and gave us a warts and all glimpse into the life of a manic depressive.  Sometimes scary and constantly emotional, I feel like Gavin Extence has bared his soul to each and every person who picks up this book.  Abby's illness must have been so difficult to put into words but Gavin Extence does this flawlessly.

Abby calls round to her neighbour's flat one day and finds his dead body.  This would be a shock for most people but Abby isn't most people, so she deals with Simon's death in almost a clinical and factual way.  It was then that I realised things weren't quite right with Abby and, as she heads into a manic episode, I braced myself for the impending train crash.  The description of her manic episode is so honest and raw that I couldn't help but be moved to tears.

Despite being in the title of the book, Melody Black only plays a small, but very significant part, in the book.  I loved the way she talked about a mirror world; you can be going along minding your own business then, suddenly without realising, step through the mirror into a completely different world.  As you swap places with your reflection, which 'you' is the real you?  I found this really sad; it made me think of people who say that they feel like a shadow of themselves.  Perhaps they have unknowingly stepped through a portal and swapped places with their real self, leaving their reflection to cope with the trials of daily life.

It was a really nice surprise to find Abby taking a trip to Lindisfarne.  This is in my neck of the woods and Lindisfarne is an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful island, with more than its fair share of history and legend.  Gavin Extence perfectly described how the island is cut off by the tides.  Abby decides to leave the island on foot via the Pilgrims' Way but stops for a rest, which she purposely extends until the tide comes in, leaving her stranded in the middle of the sea; I had goosebumps reading about her sleeping alone in the stilted refuge hut, completely cut off and surrounded by the chilly and tempestuous North Sea, underneath a magical twinkling blanket of stars.  

Compelling and emotional, The Mirror World of Melody Black is impossible to put down.  It's an honest and thoughtful account of a little-understood depressive illness with just the right amount of wit to lighten the mood.  Gavin Extence is the author of The Universe Versus Alex Woods, which I haven't read but certainly want to now.

I received this book from the publisher, Hodder, via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:




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