Carl meets Annie Risk and falls for for her but Regicide isn’t a love story instead it’s about a map and Carl’s obsession with finding the streets it matches. Though it isn’t really about love or obsession either. What Nicholas Royle does is slowly peels away Carl’s psyche but what it feels like is Carl’s psyche unhinging as you read.
What really stands out is that it gets weird fast and then remains teetering back and forth on the edge of sanity/reality before finally leaping off the deep end. This isn’t an easy at times to follow especially as it’s not clear where Carl ultimately heading.
But through apparent asides and personal revelations Royle is really putting the reader in the same mental space that Carl inhabits and that makes this a haunting and disturbing tale.
It’s not often that books effect me after reading them but this one lingers especially when you start asking how unhinged Carl actually is and when you first started to notice..
Now as this is a meditation on the life of a record store owner as he deals with love and inner demons the way Royle does things is going to effect your connection to Carl. And as this isn’t a straightforward novel in terms of hero or narrative it requires an element of , especially when you’re fast approaching the last few pages with no apparent ending in sight.
But it’s those pages that make, rather than break, Regicide. It’s not a trick ending but it does pull back that final layer that leaves Carl raw in front of the reader.
There are however things that do feel oddities in this strange tale. One is a feeling of being slightly dated or least it being date ambiguous. The plot requires the absence of some pretty everyday technology and then wondering at the beginning why Carl does one thing, even though coherent with later behaviour it jars a little in it’s unexpectedness.
Even though those things stuck in my mind they weren’t enough to pull me out of the story and they are minor considering the effect of the whole book. And it’s nice to see a book that is confident enough to be shorter. Regicide weighs in at under 200 pages and carries more power for that.
Regicide is one of those books that is perfect for dark nights but if you hear a dog bark whilst reading I doubt you’ll want to go to the window to investigate.
Competition: I ended up with two copies of Regicide so I’ve got one to giveaway (UK only sorry) just leave a comment to enter.
Deadline: 12PM 2nd Sept 2011.
Update: And the winner is: