Heap House By Edward Carey, HarperCollins, 416 pages, $19.99
Clod Iremonger, living in an alternate London in a grand mansion called Heap House, is part of a family responsible for “The Heaps” – great piles of trash. In this singularly imaginative novel, everyone is born with a birth object that they must keep with them at all times, or die. Clod, it turns out, has a rare gift for hearing the objects speak, which designates him as something of an outcast in his upper-class family. Lucy Pennant, a young servant, arrives at Heap House and the two become friends, and it is through this relationship that Clod learns the true nature of his family. Most striking is the style of the storytelling; it is labyrinthine, with delicate, complex language and drawings to evoke an eerie atmosphere. A very weird, smart, and dark first book of a trilogy laced with Mervyn Peake’s sensibility told for a junk-filled world.
Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly By P.T. Jones, ChiZine, 250 pages
One day at a birthday party, Mary sees a boy climb a tree and then float away into the sky “like a lost balloon.” Her friends don’t believe her, and she has been struggling with tensions with her mother and anxiety. They live in the town of Ipswich, Mass. (incidentally, the location of the last witch trial in America), a strait-laced, religious place where strangeness is not favoured. Told in Mary’s voice, full of teenage disquiet and malaise, this is the story of her solving the mystery of Floating Boy’s levity, while searching for her little brother and trying to save her town. As written by Stephen Graham Jones and Paul Tremblay (under a pseudonym), Mary’s narration is a slightly bratty conversation with the reader: sarcastic, defensive, moody, candid and sweet. Odd and fun.
Four By Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books, 304 pages
Veronica Roth broke the hearts of her devoted readership at the end of Allegiant, the last book in the Divergent series. Hopefully, this collection of four stories featuring the character Four will be a balm and a welcome dose of Roth’s world for those in withdrawal. Set two years before Divergent begins, the stories show the titular character’s transition from his original faction of Abnegation to Dauntless, the changing of his name, his ascension in the hierarchy of the group, until he meets Tris. Bridging gaps by filling in details from Four’s point of view enriches the post-apocalyptic Chicago Roth has constructed, and in this quartet of stories she has created a coming-of-age story, and a most satisfying prequel.