Sunday, August 05, 2012

The Miracle Inspector by Helen Smith

Something terrible has happened to London. Whatever that something is it has stripped London of all that we know it to be in real life. No longer a vibrant multicultural multiparty hub but a city whose inhabitants have finally given in to their fears creating a apocalyptic-style scenario that has turned London and those who live in it dismal, empty and soulless. This is a London where fear of terrorism has won rendering it a cut-off city with grounded planes, ensuring that the only place anyone will go to is a place much like hell once they are whisked away by the authorities 'never to be seen again'.

Helen Smith has managed to create a reality where the easy way out solution is key to everything. Paedophilia a scare? Let's shut down schools and libraries so our children are no longer exposed to strangers. Rape on the increase? Lock the women at home, strip them of their right to work and then cover them head to toe when they do venture out. The Arts inflaming hearts and instigating change? Abolish them, hunt down the artists and make sure they are made an example. Now that this is all done, Helen Smith challenges you to think; Safe or sorry?

Lucas and Angela are a married couple who live in this new London. Lucas, very much in love with his wife works at the Ministry as a miracle inspector whose job consists of checking out reports of people who say they have witnessed a miracle and validating the authenticity of those claims. Angela is a bored housewife  who has hopes and dreams but spends most of her days memorising the long names of dinosaurs from the encyclopedias she salvaged from the local library before it shut down just to get through the mundane task of shaking out the mat and polishing the taps. That is until one day, Lucas's godfather Jesmond, stops by and hands Angela a journal full of poems and letters that provide for a sort of entertainment in her life. Lucas and Angela are both barely in their early twenties and yet life seems to have aged them well before their time.

Lucas meets Maureen (a former newsreader) who claims that her daughter Christina is the miracle. The only proof to her claim is that the child only smiles when she likes someone. Lucas introduces his wife to Maureen and her daughter, an unwise move in these terrible times as women are only allowed to associate with female relatives. Things take a different and dangerous turn for Lucas and Angela and their lives are completely changed.

This is a very interesting thought-provoking book. A fantastic book club pick. I enjoyed its directness and the power it gives to the reader's imagination to fill in the gaps rendering it a work of horror at times. Although laced with humour this is far from a humorous read. Dark and disturbing where at times survival alone is a miracle in disguise!

The print edition of The Miracle Inspector will be published on September 4, 2012 but is currently available as an ebook via The Kindle Store in UK and US.

Check out author Helen Smith's website, HERE.

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