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THIS PLAGUE OF SOULS by Mike McCormack
Some books lodge in your soul simply for how they made you feel while reading. I don’t remember much about Mike McCormack’s Booker long-listed Solar Bones, but I strongly recall how it unsettled me, how I was mesmerised by its mix of experimentation and “otherness”. I was in familiar territory, then, in the opening pages of This Plague of Souls, when protagonist Nealon steps into his empty home, answers his mobile, and is confronted by the mysterious voice of someone who knows too much about him.
As Nealon attempts to reorient himself with a hostile world, memories of his past swirl - his tumultuous childhood, his strained relationship with his wife and son, his unspecified crimes - all the while being drawn further into a sinister game of cat and mouse with the phantom caller. A major event - possibly terrorist - upends Nealon’s homecoming and the stage is set for the inevitable meeting of the two men. What follows is odd and complex, a piercing metaphysical examination of morality, activism and consequence. And while I felt it stumbled a bit in the third act, This Plague of Souls still has me thinking long after I put it down.
This Plague of Souls by Mike McCormack