At first, the prose seemed elusive. Slipping and sliding so that my mind found it hard to connect with the story being told. Characters appeared as a mist, lacking any real form. The reference to the Oasis song, "Live Forever" glided past my eyes. I felt as though the people I was meeting for the first time, the characters who were here for me to identify with were charcoal sketches on a black page. Nothing coalesced. All seemed odd, very odd. Mentions of Japanese women, lesbians and the Ice Cream Queen mystified me. It was if I was pressed against a stained glass window trying to look inside to see what was there but my vision was obscured by the coloured patterns. It took a while to get a grip. My mind had to be as nimble as the text, a text that danced and shimmied introducing a range of individuals all of whom very rapidly began to form as flesh. Once that first chapter concluded after ten pages I was up to speed. I had to be fast though as this is a tale told at a tantalising pace.
You see Simon has a twin whose name is Gray. That's right Gray. Gray isn't a typo for Gary - Gray. Gray died when in the womb. He blames Simon for his death suggesting Simon absorbed his body when he died. Gray is a ghost. He lives inside Simon. Gray is a possessive force, that is he possesses Simon who really wishes he didn't.
Rose also has a twin. Rose's twin is Miranda. Miranda is very much alive and living in a sanatorium (do they still call them that?). Miranda too is possessed by an angel called Angel. If he's doing God's work then I'm the Pope with a capital P. After all P is for possession isn't it? Rose has a past. the past's name is Stefan. He is a singularly unpleasant sort of person. A man who likes beating up women, especially Rose. Mind you, Rose likes rough sex. She likes it very much but rough sex doesn't mean getting your eyes blackened or your ribs broken or an arm fractured. Rose likes Simon. Simon likes Rose. The problem is Stefan doesn't like anyone liking Rose.
The there is Shelley and Lexy and low lights in a club called the Kasbah where exotic drugs exchange hands with money greasing palms and nostril snorting lines. It is a story fueled by some incredible one-liners. Magda McQueen has an off-beat prose style that is as vivacious as it is menacing. Ashe writes with authority sneaking in lots of musical quotes, lots of bands who flavour the narrative lending a view of everyday life. But this tale is not of the every day, it is not that mundane even though the real-life if juxtaposes against the supernatural is as mundane as it is tedious.
It is by the conduit of a mirror that Simon sees his brother. It is by a mirror that Angel sees Miranda. Then there are the corridors and the doors through which the possessors move.
Magda Mcqueen has written a startling debut. Bringing together elements of the real world with its drugs, its affectation with Rock and Roll and the godawful way narcotics can warp lives. Then the supernatural, when it collides with reality, feels less unreal and dangerously close to reality.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.