Vienna resident Carroll’s sequel to his fantasy about the afterlife, White Apples (2002).
Vain, down-at-heel tour guide Simon Haden drifts cipher-like through life. Despite his good looks, women no longer swoon at his feet; an octopus drives his tour bus; and God is a giant stuffed polar bear named Bob. Finally, thanks to the promptings of 12-inch-high Broximon, Simon grasps one salient fact: He’s dead; his world is woven out of the dreams—and sometimes nightmares—he had in life. But the one woman he loved and could never have, Isabelle Neukor, keeps showing up in Simon’s death. Problem is, Isabelle’s alive, and pregnant with Anjo, a child whose advent will determine the fate of the world. How? Well, Chaos has somehow acquired intelligence and the desire to rule. But Chaos needs the mysterious “mosaic” to remain unchanged, lest Chaos’s smarts vanish. Isabelle’s lover, Vincent Ettrich, died and was brought back to life in the previous outing; now he remembers pieces of what he learned while dead, among them how to control time. Vincent may be the key to stopping John Flannery, Chaos’s sinister and powerful agent, who loves women and murders them when he no longer finds the relationship convenient—women who include several of Isabelle’s best friends. To escape Flannery and his devilish tricks, Isabelle wishes herself voluntarily into death. She still lives, but now she’s trapped there, able to perceive the living world but no longer able to return to or influence it.
Dazzling details and more twists than a bag of pretzels: disquieting, often absorbing, but, for skeptical readers, more questions than answers.