The Mirror World of Melody Black
By Gavin Extence
Published by Hodder
Available in paperback & ebook
The Mirror World of Melody Black starts with a dead body, and a woman standing over this body, smoking, unable to comprehend what is happening to her.
Gavin Extence's second novel, The Mirror World of Melody Black is a realist portrayal of inner struggles, and the way these can manifest themselves into reality.
Abby lives with her boyfriend in London, working as a freelance journalist. Life should be rosy but she has just found her next door neighbour dead in his flat. And all she can do is stand there, watching over the body, unable to react with any emotion.
Abby suffers from type two bipolar disorder and her period of mania sends her mind into hyperdrive - she can't sleep, extreme moods are pushing her in all directions, and her burst of energy sends her to Oxford, back to London to have lunch and go on a shopping spree before ending up in a posh hotel in a designer dress with a man who isn't her boyfriend. She needs her therapist... From there she is admitted to hospital, and starts to recover, slowly, with help from health professionals.
This is a book about isolation in its many forms. There is the feeling of isolation even though the book is set in London - we all live in tightly packed flats with another human only being a couple of feet away but at the same time there is this feeling of emptiness and loneliness as people do not seem to want to become involved in other peoples business. There is also isolation from the people who love you the most, and also from yourself when your mind and body become detached from each other.
Extence has created a book that is full of humour but also slows the reality of mental health issues. As well as showing the way a person becomes tangled with their struggles it also shows people being on the outside, desperate to help but not being let in to give that support or really knowing what to do.
This is a witty, painful yet compelling, and you should definitely read this book. You can buy The Mirror World of Melody Black from your favourite bookshop.
I was sent a copy from the publisher.