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A Superior Spectre (Angela Meyer, Peter Bishop)

Angela Meyer’s A Superior Spectre is an eerie, gothic work that is both a richly detailed historical novel and a chilling prediction of the near future. The book follows Jeff, a man facing his last days in the not-too-distant future. Armed with tech that allows him to enter the mind of someone from the past, Jeff flees his life and family in Melbourne to live out his shame and suffering in remote Scotland, in the mind of Leonora, a Scottish girl living in the 1860s. Jeff has been warned not to use the tech more than three times, but as pain takes hold of his body, the lure of inhabiting another proves too strong. Leonora’s life is intoxicating to Jeff, who relishes experiencing life from deep within her body. He is unable to let her go, even as he realises that he has become a parasite, infecting her with his own pains, visions and desires. Meyer’s full-length debut is a brilliant, deeply unsettling work with the unapologetically feminist rage, passion and awareness of books such as The Natural Way of Things or Margaret Atwood’s seminal The Handmaid’s Tale. Meyer is bold and unafraid in her words, immersing the reader in a vividly imagined and realised world that meets questions of bodily autonomy, madness and disgust head on.

Bec Kavanagh is a writer, reviewer and the manager of the Stella Schools Program

 

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