ONE OF GRANTA MAGAZINE'S BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS
SHORTLISTED FOR THE JAMES TAIT BLACK PRIZE FOR FICTION AND THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE FOR THE PANOPTICON
'One of the most stunning literary experiences I've had in years' Irvine Welsh
'Dazzlingly ambitious' Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain
'A gloriously transgressive novel' Ian Rankin
1910, Edinburgh. Jessie, the devil's daughter, arrives on the doorstep of an imposing tenement building and knocks on a freshly painted wooden door. She has been sent by her father to bear a child for a wealthy couple, but, when things go wrong, she places a curse on the building and all who live there - and it lasts a century.
Caught in the crossfire are the residents of 10 Luckenbooth Close, and they all have their own stories to tell. While the world outside is changing, inside, the curse creeps up all nine floors and through each door. Soon, the building's longest kept secret - the truth of what happened to Jessie - will finally be heard.
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY
After killing her father, the devils' daughter Jessie MacRea rows into Edinburgh to fulfill a contract for her father. Jessie was sold to Mr. Udnam, The Minister of Culture at 10 Luckenbooth Close so she can bear a child for him and his fiance. Jessie fulfills her end of the bargain and becomes a maid for Mr. Udnam's fiance, Elise. Mr. Udnam soon grows jealous of Elise and Jessie's relationship and commits the unthinkable. Before her death, Jessie curses Mr. Udnam's precious building and the inhabitants there for the next century. Over the next nine decades, the occupants of 10 Luckenbooth Close feel the effects of the curse as it creeps up each floor.
Luckenbooth is an atmospheric, gothic story creating an experience told throughout the decades. Jessie's story pulled me in from the beginning as she rowed away from her father's corpse. I was fully intrigued by the devil's daughter and her intentions. The writing style is unique with shorter, clipped sentences, the flow of thought from the characters minds that creates a jarring, staccato pace, catapulting you into what is happening in that moment. Split into three parts, each part tells the stories of three people who live in 10 Luckenbooth Close over the centuries. Each chapter allowed me into the lives of each resident for a period of time. While each character is complex and fully differentiated, the writing style stays the same. Each character's story offered something different while furthering the story of the curse. Flora's a hermaphrodite navigating drugs and sexuality in the 1920's. Levi works in a bone library and is drawn into creating a bone mermaid. Ivy is recruited to be a spy during World War II. Agnes is a medium who channels the spirits of Elise's dead sisters. William is a poet who can hear the echoes of the building's past. Queen Bee is part of a gang that leads her to Luckenbooth and an untimely end. Ivor is a coal miner who is afraid of the light. Dot is the last resident of Luckenbooth in the 1990's that will see the end of the curse. Luckenbooth is the type of story where you just have to settle in and see where it takes you. 10 Luckenbooth Close is a character itself that ties everyone together and becomes its own character. Haunting, dark and yet hopeful, Luckenbooth creates a world within its walls.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Jenni Fagan is an award-winning novelist, poet, screenwriter and artist - she has published several fiction novels and poetry collections, and her work has been translated into numerous languages to great critical acclaim worldwide. Jenni has been on multiple award lists including becoming a Granta Best of Young British Novelist - a once in a decade accolade - for her debut The Panopticon. Her first two fiction novels received the front cover of The New York Times Book Review, who described her as “the Patron Saint of Literary Street Urchins.”
She has written for The Independent, Marie Claire and the New York Times, and been on lists for Desmond Elliott, Encore, James Tait Black, Sunday Times Short Story Award, BBC International Short Story Prize among others, and was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She has concluded a PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2020, becoming a Dr. of Philosophy, and has a vast body of photography and other artworks that she intends to collate and exhibit at some point. She is the current Poetry Lecturer at Strathclyde University.
Jenni grew up in the local authority care system for 16 years, before spending several years in homeless accommodation, she has moved over forty-five times and spent her teens and early twenties playing in punk and then grunge bands. She has been a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellow in Grez, France, a Gavin Wallace Fellow as Poet in Residence at Summerhall for a year where she engraved poetry onto bones and installed her poems around the building, also a University of Edinburgh Writer in Residence, Arvon Tutor and she has worked with young people, blind and visually impaired writers, people in prison or secure facilities, among other vulnerable groups.
Jenni has held residencies at Shakespeare and Company in Paris, writing several of her poetry collections there, it is her favourite place to read and she considers it one of her literary homes.
She is working on several projects across the page and screen.