I received this book from The Next Best Book Club in exchange for an honest review.
“There are times when the man does not remember who he is, or how he came to be here. Times when he seems to act out the script of a desire that is not his own,” (Kendall 4).
James Burke mysteriously disappears in a lighthouse after leaving a strange phone call to Helene and her fiancée Lawrence. But after much investigation, there’s no trace of James, just a strange notebook that talks about a curse and a collection of drawings titled “The Death of the Jubliant Child,” as well as connections to Helene and her infant daughter and a strange Man With The Forks In His Fingers. Fifteen years later, Helene finds the detective’s copy of the notebook as history appears to begin repeating itself.
I don’t think I was smart enough to read this book. I found the characters interesting and was drawn to them, the overall concept was intriguing, and I really really tried to figure out what was happening in The Autodidacts but I just didn’t get it. Maybe it was because I didn’t understand all the lingo (was VERY confused about what a biro was), maybe it was a book I should have took a bit more time with, whatever the reason it just left me confused in the end.
I really appreciated the structure of the book though. The writing is strong and I loved the repetition of certain phrases throughout (with it’s overall theme of reptition) as well as certain characters names replacing others when they shouldn’t. I definitely struggled with the format of the dialogue a lot, but I recognize that it was done stylistically and trying to identify who was speaking to who definitely fit with the vibe of the story. Of the large cast of character I really enjoyed reading about Diane and Henry and found their development fascinating throughout, though all the character truthfully have their quirks that make them interesting to follow. There’s also a fifteen-year time jump that works fairly well, though Evelyn’s character development was definitely jarring. The issue with a large cast of character and time jumps is that not every character always gets the attention they deserve, and I felt the gaps in Evelyn’s development were very noticeable, though I still enjoyed when she popped up.
Kendall does an excellent job with creating a bleak atmosphere as well. So much of the story is creepy and dark, almost like the characters are waiting for a light to shine on them. Good luck there’s a lighthouse nearby, or is that a good thing?
Also, if someone can tell me who the Man With The Forks In His Fingers is/what his significance means I would be VERY appreciative because it was lost to me.
The Autodidacts is a well-structured, complex read. Even though it was one I didn’t fully understand, I appreciate the unique way it tells it’s story and know it will be a favourite to many readers!
Publication: May 5 2022
Publisher: Whiskey Tit
Pages: 464 pages (PDF)
Source: TNBBC (Thanks Lori!)
Genre: Fiction, Adult, Contemporary,
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤.5
A man mysteriously disappears in a lighthouse, as if dissolved by light, leaving behind a notebook filled with bizarre claims of a curse and a series of drawings entitled ‘The Death of the Jubilant Child.’ The investigation into the disappearance unearths hidden connections between the disappeared man, Helene and the strange figure of the Man With The Forks In His Fingers. Fifteen years later, the discovery of the detective’s copy of the notebook by Helene’s daughter seems to set in motion a repetition of the events of the past.