This novel is deeply complex, and entirely compelling. I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the author, Gemma Amor, and I can’t imagine a more perfect voice to bring such a deeply personal story to life.
Magpie, this is how we know her, has signed up for an experimental therapeutic program involving virtual reality. She wakes in a strange place and almost immediately discovers her own body, beneath a suspension bridge, clearly having jumped. A man appears shortly after – her friend – and we begin the slow, deeply detailed descent into this new world, where she tries to unravel how she died, and why she is in this strange place, with this strange man. Such a narrative could have been confusing, but the details and the research that clearly went into this render it seamless and easy to follow.
What Magpie doesn’t know is that on the other side of glass panels, a tech and his boss are monitoring progress, tweaking programs, and caring for her physical form as she makes her way through a maze of memories, experiences, and objects culled from her past in search of her solution. Their careers depend on her success.
Magpie’s mind is very dark, and powerful. Despite attempts to guide her, things topple from the rails as she grows more confident and powerful. Stalked by a dark creature from her nightmares, rediscovering memories as she goes, Magpie plunges herself, her new friend, and the program into deeper and deeper darkness, seeking a light at the end.
The narration is spot on. Characters are distinct and have their own agendas. You can feel Magpies pain, and her triumphs. Truly a wonderful book.