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The Deadly Space Between: A Novel Hardcover – July 2, 2002

3.3 out of 5 stars 5 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Her literary reputation well established with Hallucinating Foucault and The Doctor, Duncker here draws on Mary Shelley, Herman Melville and Freud, yet the work is powerfully her own, erotically charged and, finally, enigmatic. Most of this provocative novel is narrated by London-bred Tobias, the 18-year-old son of Iso, an unmarried girl who gave birth to him before she was 16. She has never identified his father, and perhaps not unconsciously encourages him to be infatuated with her, even allowing him certain sexual freedoms. Iso is fascinated by a huge man, identified only as Roehm, 25 years her senior; he is physically overwhelming and intuitively aware of her feelings and movements. Tobias, no less than his mother, develops a near-sexual relationship with him. When Tobias discovers that Roehm is actually his father, the Oedipal nature of this strange menage a trois is evident. In Melville's words, they have transgressed the deadly space between. Tobias finally tries to kill Roehm, but is unsuccessful, and after he and Iso flee to the glacier-covered mountains of Switzerland (corresponding to Shelley's Arctic ice floes), Roehm follows. His body is soon discovered in a crevasse near their retreat. When Iso goes to the police to confess to having killed him, they laugh. They have examined the body, they say; it is two centuries old and has been identified as one Gustave Roehm, a Swiss alpinist. Mother and son depart, but find they are still not entirely free of Roehm. The major source Duncker fails to acknowledge is Henry James, and if her contemporary ghost story lacks the exquisite subtlety of The Turn of the Screw, it captures the imagination, grotesquely repellant yet sinuously compelling.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

At 18, Toby Hawk is immersed in an all-female English household that includes his too-young seductive mother, Isobel; Great-Aunt Luce; and Luce's lover, Liberty. For a while, Toby's curiosity about his mysterious paternity is deflected by Iso's artfully distracting physical contact with her son, who is both his mother's protector and her bedmate. Iso's occasional lovers have never really bothered Toby until the sinister Roehm reenters his mother's life, enraging Luce with his eerily controlling influence. Even as Toby rails against Roehm's hypnotic powers over Iso, Roehm draws Toby into a dark, confusing world of sexual ambiguity. Pushed to the brink and beyond, Toby flees with Iso after attacking Roehm. To no one's surprise, Roehm doesn't stay dead any more than the Hawks stay hidden. This foray into the horror genre by award-winning novelist Duncker (Hallucinating Foucault) is a stiff hodgepodge of recycled themes: the living dead, adolescent cybersurfing, incestuous relationships, dark emotional furies, a shadowy father figure, and the harsh forces of nature. This disappointing book is not recommended.
- - Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Ecco; 1st US Ed. edition (July 2, 2002)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0060085932
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0060085933
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.96 x 8.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.3 out of 5 stars 5 ratings

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3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5
5 global ratings

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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 17, 2003
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 4, 2003
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jelly 1960
1.0 out of 5 stars Not nice, and sleazy.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on October 9, 2018
Richard Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficulties of genre
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on June 11, 2013
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