The Deadly Space Between by Patricia Duncker

Here’s a funny thing: I liked this book, but I don’t have a freakin’ clue what it’s about. Well, I sort of know that it’s about a well-regarded artist Isobel (Iso) and her 18 year old son, Toby. When Iso takes a lover, the enigmatic Roehm, Toby’s life is thrown into a tailspin. But The Deadly Space Between is not a straight forward tale by any stretch.

First of all, only 15 years separate Iso and her son and their relationship is complicated and sexually charged. The story is narrated by Toby and it’s difficult to know how reliable his observations are: Are his memories exaggerated? Is Roehm as other-worldly as he seems?

Roehm is a mysterious character, that’s for sure. Seen through Toby’s eyes he is huge, white and powerful; much like the monolithic winterscapes his mother is currently painting. Roehm’s arrival unbalances Toby’s relationship with his mother- which is clearly too insular- and even though the only information we get about Roehm is skewed through Toby’s eyes, his mysterious presence is what propels the novel through to its strangely unsettling conclusion.

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A story about Duncker

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