CHILDREN OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT by Nicholas Mosley

CHILDREN OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A disturbingly prophetic vision of a contaminated near-future from the British writer whose dense and demanding fiction include Accident (1966) and the Whitbread Award-winning Hopeful Monsters (1991). It begins when Harry, a veteran journalist who has specialized in stories about catastrophes, travels from London to Cumbria (site of a nuclear power station) in northern England to write about the reported appearance of the Blessed Virgin to a group of children who seem to have formed a kind of adult-free commune. He suspects a red herring meant to deflect public attention from a nuclear accident, and finds what may be evidence of scientific experiments involving children. The story of Harry's own failing relationships with his suspicious wife and distracted young son adds a further dimension of uncertainty, as does Mosley's oddly--and often quite effectively--muted style, filled with rhetorical questions and abrupt changes of pace and emphasis. As Harry gradually elicits information from taciturn townspeople and the mysterious children themselves, he begins to doubt his very ability to absorb and process information. During a previous assignment, in Yugoslavia, he had, after being told of a similar religious vision, uncovered evidence of environmental contamination. Is the memory of that experience coloring his perception now? Or, perhaps more to the point, have the Cumbrian children's perceptions been altered by their exposure to radioactive particles? Unanswerable questions keep multiplying, in a complex, challenging narrative that thrusts Harry back and forth between past and present, his responsibilities as husband and father and his professional obligation to learn and tell the truth. A succession of biblical allusions (to the Cities of the Plain, Noah's Ark, Sodom and Gomorrah) and to Hieronymus Bosch's great painting The Garden of Earthly Delights are crucial building-blocks in this enigmatic novel's despairing revelations. Reminiscent of Doris Lessing's The Four-Gated City, and a highly interesting addition to Mosley's somber studies of contemporary moral failure and looming future shock.

Pub Date: July 15th, 1997
ISBN: 1-56478-151-8
Page count: 241pp
Publisher: Dalkey Archive
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1997




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