THE SEVENTH MANSION is the debut novel from Maryse Meijer, who has previously penned the acclaimed collection HEARTBREAKER STORIES (as well as another collection of shorts with RAG, and the novella NORTH WOOD), and if you’re a member of any counter-culture you will find a lot to love about this. If you aren’t, well, you can at least appreciate the intentional and interior and effective fragmented prose.
THE SEVENTH MANSION centers around Xie, an extreme vegan/naturalist who has been moved by his divorced father Erik from L.A., mostly due to an oil spill that Xie couldn’t physically or mentally tolerate. They relocate to a rural Southern town and Xie is quickly singled out, mostly negatively by most of his school, but positively by two very rambunctious queer girls: Jo and Liam. They see a kindred spirit in his lassitude and rebellion and environmental badges such as ‘TAKE NOTHING. LEAVE EVERYTHING.’
All three of them decide to take their environmental activism to the next level and liberate a number of caged minks waiting to be skinned, but only Xie is caught via their activities.
It doesn’t help that Xie — someone whose friends unknowingly chastise him for being celibate and asexual — has a thing for bones. As in actual skeleton bones. He steals the remains of a saint from a church — St. Pancratius, the patron saint of youth — and matters escalate.
I’ll note that Xie’s father is one of the rare depictions of a positive, understanding father in fiction. He legitimately wants to help Xie and he’s supportive and listens to him, even when Xie shuts himself away.
It is a slow, twisted burn of a ride and full of fragmented thoughts and feelings and sensuality and builds to one hell of a climax in more ways than one.