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.
In case you weren’t aware, I’m an old-school goth, firmly aware that early ROSETTA STONE was basically SISTERS OF MERCY mimicry.
But with -The Tyranny of Inaction- and the -nothing- E.P. they turned the corner and merged their sound with a more electro-infused sensibility and remixed some of their older work into far more invigorating pieces, such as -Adrenaline-.
I’m stupidly physically hyper-sensitive to a debilitating extent, but extremely percussive songs really help me cope for some reason, and I absolutely thrill to not just this song, but this very succinct remix. I visibly glow while listening to it and just want to launch myself around. It’s a very fun time.
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is arguably Shirley Jackson’s second-best known work next to THE LOTTERY — partially because of the film adaptation THE HAUNTING (which she was on set to consult) and, perhaps, because of Mike Flanagan’s wild deviation of a TV adaptation. (A fine series that, sadly, I feel has little to do with its source material.) However, I found WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE — her final novel before she sadly passed away — to be far more affecting.
WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE harbors many of Jackson’s tropes: gothic horror, family strife, New England iciness and societal rejection, agoraphobia, and decaying homesteads. However, it also feels like the apotheosis of her works, that this story of two sisters living together in their family’s house in Vermont, their mother and father, aunt and brother, dead due to poison before the youngest daughter, Mary Katherine “Merricat”, became a teenager. Only the uncle survived, barely, and they house and take care of him.
It’s a riveting, wild read, one that — while it received wide recognition and critical acclaim when it was released — appears to have faded into the stacks.