cover image Mirror Dead

Mirror Dead

Magda McQueen. Tartarus, $45 (264p) ISBN 978-1-905784-94-3

British author McQueen’s mordantly amusing novel features an inventive twist on the hackneyed theme of the evil twin: “a belligerent cross-dressing ghost with a huge chip on his shoulder because he can’t accept he’s dead.” That’s how would-be novelist Simon Greenwood describes Gray, the ghost of his unborn twin, absorbed before birth, who can only be glimpsed in mirror reflections but who manipulates Simon and feeds off the deaths of his sex partners. Gray’s latest assignment for Simon is to seduce and kill Rose, who herself has an institutionalized twin sister, Miranda. Gray ghoulishly relishes the prospect of savoring Rose’s death. The shenanigans between the living and the dead that play out in Cheltenham, England, are occasionally interrupted by interludes set on a weird plane of the afterlife, presided over by a creepy authority figure, the Angel, who occasionally dispatches wretched souls to wreak havoc in the land of the living. McQueen’s narrative floats from one outrageous moment to the next, buoyed by the witty banter between Gray and Simon (whom Gray refers to in his internal monologues as Dopey). Readers fond of dark fantasy with a light touch will be rewarded. (Sept.)