Patrick deWitt’s follow up to the brilliant The Sisters Brothers is just as described by the publisher on my advanced reading copy, “incredible”. Continuing on with the subversiveness that made The Sisters Brothers such a magnificent and unique take on The Western, deWitt turns his hand to another genre to create a darkly comic romp that blends a sense of humour, a sense of the absurd and a sense of the surreal in a way that would make even Wes Anderson envious.
Lucy Minor is bored and unmotivated. There is nothing for him in the town of Bury where he has grown up and lived his entire life. After the sudden death of his father Lucy takes the position of assistant to the majordomo of Castle Von Aux. Upon arrival by train Lucy discovers that all is not as it seems. The castle is almost run down. Its former staff of twenty is now two (three with Lucy). Its Baroness has run off and its Baron has possibly gone mad. As Lucy settles into to his new daily tasks he begins to explore the castle and its nearby village where he discovers amongst its inhabitants thieves, soldiers, murderers, love and a very large hole (in that order). And when all these come together (combined with heartbreak) Lucy finds he is no longer bored and has all the motivation in the world.
This was an absolute pleasure to read. Thoughtful, clever, playful and inventive Patrick deWitt captures you from the opening pages and sucks you into this surreal, absurdist world of small wars, Barons, Dukes & Counts and very large holes. If you loved The Sisters Brothers this is going to blow your mind. A wonderful, thrillingly original novel from an author whose work is like no other.