Book Reviews
Beyond Black: Hilary Mantel
16th Mar 2010Posted in: Book Reviews Comments Off on Beyond Black: Hilary Mantel
Beyond Black: Hilary Mantel

Alison is a thirty-something medium who makes her living travelling from venue to small venue on the M25, connecting people to their lost loved ones. Her life is pretty disorganised until she meets Colette, who’s just about to put an end to her failing marriage. Colette moves in and takes Alison’s affairs successfully in hand, but soon the relationship begins to disintegrate.

For Alison’s world is inhabited by a cast of dead characters from her childhood who are no better than they were when alive – and that’s pretty damned evil. The terrible secret of that childhood, hidden even from Alison herself, is revealed gradually: there’s no plot as such, yet this book would be worth reading for the beautiful prose alone, and I promise that by the time you’ve turned the last page you’ll never see the world in quite the same way again.

I enjoyed the telling descriptions of the psychics and their craft and the glimpses of Alison’s dark childhood. I’d have liked Colette to be less abrasive towards Alison, although this tension does drive the story forward. But the most amazing thing about this book is the way Hilary Mantel makes the reader suspend disbelief in the unseen dimension that exists all around us, and paints it with colours never before imagined. Maybe she knows something the rest of us don’t.

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