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GLASS BOYS by Nicole Lundrigan (Douglas & McIntyre), 291 pages, $22.95 paper. Lundrigan launches Lost Boys at Ben McNally Books on Saturday (September 17). See listing. Rating: NNNN
Nicole Lundrigan’s Glass Boys is drenched in dread, but it doesn’t drown in it, which is one of the many reasons it’s such a powerful piece of writing.
In small-town Newfoundland, Lewis, the town constable, and his brother Roy stumble drunk upon Eli Fagan just as he’s discovered that his step-son Garrett has a very creepy secret. As Eli’s rage peeks, Roy gets caught in his orbit and killed.
This opening episode is a defining one for the characters. Lewis desperately seeks some emotional calm, marrying the wrong woman but fathering two precious boys, Melvin and Toby. Eli can’t stop punishing Garrett’s mother. And Garrett starts looking for ways to live out his deadly fantasies.
The characters are torn up by the choices they make, whether it’s Garrett’s mother, who marries Eli, the town low-life, to put a roof over her head, or Wilda, who accept Lewis’s marriage proposal to gain a sense of security that she can’t ultimately accept.
Lundrigan fearlessly probes the depths humans can sink to, but she manages, too, to find lots of light. While waiting breathlessly to see how low Garrett will go, the reader can take some comfort in Melvin’s love for his mother or tender Toby’s determination to win the girl of his dreams.
The author has a gift for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary – in a neighbour’s kindness, for example, or in the comforting confines of a vintage store.
And the prose is gorgeously vivid. This is Lundrigan’s fourth novel, and she’s at the peak of her powers. Glass Boys is a gripping story, told with immense skill and unblinking honesty.
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