The collective sins of four college friends come home to roost more than a decade after a bizarre tragedy scattered them in this disturbing, darkly hypnotic novel by McMahon (Island of Lost Girls, 2008, etc.).
In college, promising art students Tess and Henry belonged to a group called the “Compassionate Dismantlers.” Led by Suz, a rebellious blond waif with bisexual tendencies and a healthy contempt for society and order, they proclaimed “Dismantlement Equals Freedom” and tormented a fellow student who had been one member’s boyfriend. Eventually, something they did was so troubling that it continues to cast a dark and disturbing shadow over the now-married Tess and Henry. The troubled couple has separated: Henry has moved into a small apartment in the workshop in back of their Vermont home; Tess continues to live in the main house with their daughter Emma, a misfit who obsesses over a moose, the number nine and her affinity for an imaginary playmate. When an attempt to reconcile her parents backfires, the Dismantlers reunite in a way that Henry and Tess would have never imagined, bringing with them their penchant for spreading destruction and mayhem. As Henry struggles with his fears for his daughter, Tess deals with an unexpected attraction to a strange woman, and Emma simply struggles. McMahon’s deftly creepy prose creates a world of chaos and abuse; the book brims with unexpected and often startling plot twists, taking the reader on a strange journey that never disappoints. But while the characters are memorable, they’re also difficult to care about.
Sometimes beautifully written and extraordinarily imaginative; the only thing it lacks is human interest.