Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Miracle Inspector - Helen Smith

Set in a Britain where there are border controls between counties, Lucas and his wife Angela lead a hum-drum life. They live in a world where the government have either killed or imprisoned the majority of the population. The Arts has gone underground, zoo animals roam free and there are departments that investigate cats. Lucas, investigates miracles checking out the many reports which often result in the miracle being a strategically placed pepper in a flan. Fear of terrorists has closed the entry in and out of the country trapping its citizens, fear of pedophiles has closed schools, education is in decline, libraries in disrepair. Mortality is low, yet what can be done to lift people out of it?

In a society where women are no longer allowed to work, when they leave their homes they can only visit a relative (and even then they have to be covered up), Lucas wonders if his wife is bored at home. His law defying godfather, Jesmond, a poet and an infamous one at that, leaves a journal in which Angela escapes in to. But Lucas soon destroys it as it's evidence that he is connected to him. Acting older than their twenty something years, their life together is fragile, but Lucas suggests leaving London and heading to Cornwall; they dare to imagine a different life. It will be a difficult journey and they'll need passes. Will they be able to cross all the borders undetected?

Well written with a dark, wry humor that is quintessentially British, Smith's dystopian novel is an interesting read. Lucas, is sometimes pompous yet has an endearing trait to nurture and look after his wife. Angela is dreamy and almost a wallflower. Both are likable characters and whilst the premise of the novel is quite cheerless, the black humor doesn't make it too depressing. There's an almost disjointed feel to the chapters yet the story continues to flow.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Miracle Inspector despite it being outside of my comfort zone. It's a tale of utter bleakness, mistrust and longing hope - but the moments of humor does stop it from becoming a dire read. It has an abrupt ending and there are hints of why the country fell apart but I would have liked to have read a prologue of sorts to aid the whole story. However, it's a recommended read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author to review. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.

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