Reviewed by Emma Salmon
Ed Kennedy is going nowhere. Despite ‘potential’ he is has dead end job, working the odd shifts as an underage cabby, drifting reluctantly into adulthood with his bunch of equally slacker friends, his days revolving around his unrequited love for Audrey, nights playing cards and drinking, and a very old, very smelly, dog called The Doorman.
Then a chance incident during a bodged bank robbery results in Ed receiving a strange delivery – the first of a set of playing cards with 3 addresses written upon it – delivered through his door by a shadowy figure, always on the peripheral of his vision, and his life takes a left field turn into a dark and mysterious parallel world that challenges Ed to the very core of his soul.
This beautifully written tale, by the multiple award winning author of The Book Thief, takes the reader on a journey through the extraordinary lives of the ordinary. Set in a nowhere town that could be anywhere, with characters that are universally recognisable yet not instantly likeable, roughened and disillusioned, outwardly directionless and on a circular path of pointless treading water, days making do and nights numbed by drink, drugs and meaningless sex. The card through Ed’s door acts as a catalyst for change as he faces the challenges set and understands his role to put right the wrongs that he encounters on his journey. Often reluctant, often physically and mentally damaged by the demands, he has no opportunity to back out as there appears to be a whole set of others involved in the messenger process, who refuse to allow him to walk away.
This is a coming of age story with a difference, as Ed is literally made to confront his demons and those of the people close to him. His transformation gives direction and meaning to his life as he completes the tasks, and he is left with just one question – who is writing the script that he has to follow, and why?
RRP: £7.99 (paperback)
Available to buy from Random House here.