The Dream of Dr. Bantam

Jeanne Thornton. OR (www.orbooks.com), $17 trade paper (332p) ISBN 978-1-935928-87-4
In this offbeat, emotionally raw debut, FictionCircus.com co-founder Thornton explores the tribulations of romance and rebellion, and the coming-of-age of 17-year-old Julie Thatch. Still reeling from her older sister's suicide, Julie meets and falls for Patrice, a mercurial, fragile, oddly-innocent young woman striving to move up in the ranks of the Institute of Temporal Illusions, a cult led by the titular Dr. Bantam. Their relationship is a volatile, co-dependent, unstable thing, made worse by Patrice's damaged psyche and Julie's cynicism regarding the cult and life in general. The latter's half-hearted quest for personal growth clashes with Patrice's increasing instability and obsession with becoming "Unbound," or free from the concept of time, and both careen toward a moment of crisis. The lack of quotation marks gives the text a muted, distant feel, an effect abetted by Julie and Patrice's underlying feelings of alienation and disaffection. But Thornton's hypnotically intense writing style makes the story simultaneously attractive and repulsive, though consistently powerful. Agent: Jason Allen Ashlock, Movable Type Literary Group. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2012
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