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Free health care. A rural man. Death row. Soul disease. Organ traffic. Gallows. Lion attack. A mercenary lawyer. Stray lightning bolts and falling stalactites. People who also move things. Murdered beer and naturally flavoured beef. Allergies for certain plants. A baking recepe. And more. What on earth could possibly bring all these together?Vines. The vines of a plant that seeks flesh and can develop a certain taste for a meal. With roots that dig into the soul and burn it in the flames of its blossom.
This book... is a weird book. I don't know what to call it. A horror story? Thriller? Mystery novel? Science fiction? No idea. But amazing would fit anyway.
Not so long ago, while browsing wiki, I came along a drawing style they called "fantasy hyper realism". I think this would fit as well, even perfectly so. Because you read, and it is so queer, and weird, and absurd and yet so undeniably real.
The story starts with Abel Muranda, a rural man who would do anything to save his family from starvation and disease. He is led in the city with the ambition of becoming the replacement of the hangman who retired few years ago - without noticing the strange line of events that brought him to it or the almost disturbing haste of the Zimbabwe's elite. Because if it's for his family, it is all worth it.
Next to him many other characters show up and unwind their own storylines. I thing I've never read a book with so many side notes. For maybe the first third of the story I was thinking that if all of them weren't so nice and easy to read, and so entertaining by themselves, they would bother and confuse me. But as I halved the book, I realized something.
There are no minor characters.
There are no subplots.
These are not side notes.
These are hints.
From this moment, I started hunting them down. Hey, you've ever watched Midsomer Murders? You've noticed how sometimes they just forget to solve the death of one of the dozens dead bodies? Frankly, here I doubt that even one word was placed without being carefully weighted. Everything tangles and entwines, just like the vines of the terrifying plant that holds everyone prisoner of their own guilt and fears. And yet it all forms the perfect pattern.
The reader goes on and collects pieces - Abel. The natural, illiterate, still very inteligent Abel, who is wrapped in simplicity and mystery in the same time. The man in the center of everything. This would be the center piece of the puzzle, I have little doubt about it. But what goes around it to make the full picture? How would fit the inventor, fascinated with the means of death, and the genious, whose brain never sleeps? The woman who offers herself, searching for love and the one who seeks revenge after finding and loosing the love she had? The lawyer who communicates with the world via paper packages and the shadowy characters who seek to sacrifice in order to save their souls.
And I still am not sute how they fit together.
In the annotation, the author says that this first book is a collage. I'd say that the whole series is a puzzle and the first part gives us a good handful of the most important pieces, and yet we are still unable to perceive the whole picture. So here I will give you and advice - from the very beginnig, gather every little piece of information, every hint, every image, every note. You don't know when you will need it.
I can't even begin to expain you how it felt when some pieces of the corners started coming together. Nor the shock and desperation that overcame me when the terrible words The End showed up when I thought I had at least 20 more pages! Now, that was cruel.
I can't descibe the evil -and bored- genius who in this book sets in motion at least half a dozen carefully navigated chain reactions that self amplificated with every page. Nor I can figure who and how ill be able to stand against him - and this excites and scares me to no end.
In the end, I can't say "If you liked .... read this" simply because I can't think of anything like it. But read it, please do. I don't know if anything got clear from this mixed up review, but one thing I hope got through: I can't recommend this book highly enough. Read it. Your mind will thank you just like your taste buds would if you treat them with naturally flavoured beef.