September 01, 2015

Untouchable Things - Tara Guha

Legend Press, September 1, 2015.

Three Stars

Untouchable Things is filled with mystery and intrigue that will catch your attention right from the prologue. With a foreboding sense of what is to come, it’s hard to put this novel down until you find out who is watching Rebecca and whether she will survive their obsession – and even that is left fairly open ended. This is not a traditional Gone Girl thriller, although it has many psychological elements. It is much slower paced, with many more literary elements and references to dramatic works such as Hamlet and Oedipus – the original psychological thrillers.


Seth is the charismatic leader of an artistic group called the Friday Folly. Each member of the group brings a different skill to their meetings, such as playing the piano, reciting poetry, or cooking gourmet meals. What all of the members have in common is their love of Seth. They compete for his attention in a manner that borders on worship, and in exchange he seems to fulfill all of their fantasies, different as they are. In his fatherly role in the group, he manages to control everyone, including new recruit Rebecca.


The addition of Rebecca to the group brings all of their conflicting emotions to a head. She meets Seth while playing the role of Ophelia in Hamlet, and her portrayal of the lovesick and suicidal woman is more than he can resist. As one of the group says, “Seth loves all that shit. Secrets, disguises, pretending. Confused identity.” (Loc. 3075) And these are the elements that keeps the whole group together, until the biggest secret of all – Seth’s disappearance.


The novel is split into act and scenes, with some sections written in full dramatic dialogue. In addition, the scenes are split into interviews with the police, which we eventually learn was precipitated by Seth’s disappearance. It does seem like an excess of post-modern formatting, but what I did like about the interviews was the way they segued into daydreams of the past – it was unclear how much of these memories were actually being recounted to the police. This style has been done before, but it still felt fresh, and darkly humorous.


There is no big climax in the novel – Seth is gone, and the group fizzles out. Because there wasn’t a lot of action in the second half of the book, it was much creepier than it might have been – the many loose ends that could come back and haunt the members of the group are a dark shadow waiting around each corner. Nothing is really resolved in the end, although the members of the Friday Folly feel a (false) sense of security about things. We are left with many questions – is the group safe, or still in danger? And more importantly, did Seth plan everything right from the start? Read Untouchable Things, and then decide how safe you feel…


I received this book for free from Legend Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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