"I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped. I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me."
Those lines begin one of the most infamous of contemporary Scottish novels. The narrator, Frank Cauldhame, is a weird teenager who lives on a tiny island connected to mainland Scotland by a bridge. He maintains grisly Sacrifice Poles to serve as his early warning system and deterrent against anyone who might invade his territory.
Few novelists have ever burst onto the literary scene with as much controversy as Iain Banks in 1984. The Wasp Factory was reviled by many reviewers on account of its violence and sadism, but applauded by others as a new and Scottish voice--that is, a departure from the English literary tradition. The controversy is a bit puzzling in retrospect, because there is little to object to in this novel, if you're familiar with genre horror.
The Wasp Factory is distinguished by an authentically felt and deftly written first-person style, delicious dark humor, a sense of the surreal, and a serious examination of the psyche of a childhood psychopath. Most readers will find that they sympathize with and even like Frank, despite his three murders (each of which is hilarious in an Edward Gorey fashion). It's a classic of contemporary horror. --Fiona Webster
One of the top 100 novels of the century.The New York Times
Brilliant...irresistible...compelling.Mail on Sunday
A mighty imagination has arrived on the scene.The Financial Times
Macabre, bizarre, and impossible to put down.The Scotsman
There's nothing to force you, having been warned, to read it; nor do I recommend it.Punch The Wasp Factory
is a first novel not only of tremendous promise, but also of achievement, a minor masterpiece perhaps.The Times
(London) Rubbish!Times Literary Supplement
A literary equivalent of the nastiest brand of juvenile delinquency.Daily Express
Read it if you dare.