Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Mirror World of Melody Black by Gavin Extence

Review by JJ Marsh

What we thought:

Hard to categorise as the initial lightness of tone gives way to much darker layers.

Abby pops round to a neighbour's flat to borrow a tin of tomatoes, but he's dead. This episode and her pragmatic reaction - she smokes two cigarettes, calls the police and takes the tomatoes anyway - soon leads the reader to realise Abby has problems relating to the world.

Gradually, reflected reactions from her therapist and boyfriend, plus a hypermania shopping episode which ends badly force us to accept the inevitable. Abby needs help even if all she wants is the emergency exit.

While in a secure psychiatric ward, she meets Melody Black, a curious and engaging individual whose approach to mental illness gives rise to the title. She and Abby and the other patients have fallen into the ‘Mirror World’, while other versions of themselves are living the life they should.

The writing is perfectly balanced, indicating the protagonist’s state of mind with great subtlety, and the letters from her boyfriend I found deeply moving.

Gavin Extence is a new author to me but it appears I’m late to the party. The Universe versus Alex Woods has a huge fanbase, so I shall seek out more. This book was fascinating, enveloping and a genuine insight into managing bipolar disorder.


You’ll enjoy this if you liked: Running in Heels by Anna Maxted, The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Flier or The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence.

Avoid if you don’t like: Unreliable, suicidal narrators, mental health problems

Ideal accompaniments: Penne Arrabiata, a glass of Valpolicella and Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis



Available on Amazon




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