" On the one hand, it’s a masterpiece of writing with its bleak setting empathetically mirroring the soullessness of the inhabitants and characters who grab you from the outset "
In trying to write a review for this book, I find myself torn in two, much like this novel. On the one hand, it’s a masterpiece of writing with its bleak setting empathetically mirroring the soullessness of the inhabitants and characters who grab you from the outset and won’t let go. On the other hand, it single-mindedly charts one man’s obsession with rape and manipulation.
I am perhaps making it out to be worse than it is. The crux of the story is that Lucky has an ability to sway the minds of those around him. Every woman he encounters desires him instantly and gives herself to him, but it’s not consensual since they are being brainwashed by his uncanny abilities – sometimes with fatal consequences. Holloway thus writes “consensual” sex scenes that still have the tang of rape to them. Lucky also influences men not to disagree with him and so garners his nickname as the man who gets away with it all. He is charismatic, deadly and an engaging character for any reader to follow.
But before reading this book, you should ask yourself the following questions. Do you have a problem with rape? Are you squeamish when it comes to beastiality? Can you stomach scenes of animal cruelty? If you answer yes to any of these, then elements of the book are not going to be for you.
If none of that stuff bothers you in fiction, then this book is definitely worth a read. At first, I put it down when I was disgusted by one character’s attitude to rape (interestingly, not Lucky’s), but I went back to it. I think that is probably a form of praise in itself: despite my dislike of the content, I enjoyed the writing sufficiently and cared enough about the characters to continue reading.
Holloway’s characters are valiant but flawed. Strangely, I found his strongest characters to be the ones on the periphery. Kenny, arguably the main protagonist, was one I couldn’t get on with. In fact, it was Kenny’s thoughts on the rape of his daughter which made me put the book down in the first place – an opinion which seemed to have even less merit when you learn of Kenny’s childhood experiences with Lucky in part two. I wonder if this throwaway comment might lose Holloway some readers who, unlike me, would not return to the novel. Personally, I would much rather have followed the story through the eyes of Kenny’s kids, Jenny and Jake. They seemed far stronger characters, more proactive while their father remained a reactive character only.
You may look at this list of flaws and think that this is a book to avoid, but that isn’t the case. If you go into it knowing what to expect, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy the tale. It’s dark, evocative and doesn’t pull its punches. Lucky’s preaching that nature and the people need unifying is reflected throughout with the dry and barren lake and township that Holloway describes which matches perfectly the washed out citizens of Elton. Some of those inhabitants get swallowed up by their fate, and some of them rise above their surroundings and their nature to be unlikely heroes. Holloway’s writing keeps you guessing as to whether characters are going to be heroes or prey.
So while I would have given this book four, if not five, stars overall if I’d been rating it that way, instead I’d feel inclined to reduce that somewhat given the opinions and themes within the novel. That said, they’re very personal to me and won’t apply to everyone. So pick up a copy and give “Lucky’s Girl” a go; you may just love it.