I thought I’d start with my first ‘professional’ review…this was done by a lady who reads books for a living. I have no pre-existing relationship with her, I approached her through a book group on FB and sent her a copy of Merry Go Round to review.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous and Dark Reviewed in the United States on May 5, 2021
I adore first-person present-tense novels. There is something so claustrophobic, so intense, so jumpy about being in another person’s head as their world unfolds – whether real or imagined, you feel it all, and in the slowly building structure of a novel that reads like a emotionally-dizzying journal, the tension is constant and palpable.
“Merry Go Round” is an incredibly compelling ride, whirling us into the mental kaleidoscopic of our protagonist Lily, and into what quickly becomes a disturbing first-hand look at co-dependence, mind-blowing anxiety, addiction and obsession. In Lily’s head, (sometimes kicking-and screaming, but always, with a sick heart, understanding her) we are forced to endure the terror of the inescapable, deep in the throws of the self-propelled closed-loop cycling of her mind.
Lily’s experiences (as recorded in her not-so-reliable present-tense narration) are heartbreaking. All the more so as we see her fractured identity struggling, alternating between different levels of self-awareness, and bringing into play a whole host of coping mechanisms (some hopeful, some effective and others catastrophically self-destructive).
Our story begins as, an emotional footing tentatively gained, Lily begins to imagine an alternate life, free from the confines of her darkly unhealthy relationship, as she escapes to the coast of Devon for a new beginning. There is something raw and vulnerable in her journey, which is captured so beautifully by the author.
“I began to imagine my new world of cliff top walks, brazen winds and nestling down with hot chocolate on weather-whipped beaches.”
It doesn’t take long for the first sparks of hope to emerge, an inevitable gift aided by the sanctity of those “rolling lettuce-green hills”, – an event that we experience, vicariously, as both cheering and at the same time, terrifying. We so want this new found joy to last.
“ I clutched hold of the carefree feeling and brought it inside of myself; its colours, just like the aurora borealis, filled every cell and fibre of my being”.
As usual, there are no spoilers here! All I will say, is that, if you are looking for an authentic and thoroughly gripping portrayal of the despair and the delight of obsession, I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up loving this book as much as I do.
A great big thank you to the author for a review copy of this gorgeously dark novel in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts presented are my own.