NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK // REVIEW BY CRAIG KELLY
Lorraine Wilson’s latest novel is not easily categorised. Ostensibly a speculative fiction novel, it is principally a story of grief, the ties that bind siblings, and the lengths we’re willing to go for those we love.
As sisters go, Freya and Tamsin are not close. Freya is the child that pleases her parents—steady career, successful, if a little boring, partner, and a clear life-plan. Tamsin, however, is a flighty hipster who seems to live in the shadow of her twin brother.
Following the death of their brother, the sisters react in very different ways. Freya’s life continues, while Tamsin is broken and scrabbling around for a reason to continue. Then she disappears.
Freya gets pulled ever deeper into a frantic search for her sister. In the process, she discovers the complexities and quirks of her missing sister, battles with her desperate longing to be reconciled, and becomes increasingly erratic as she realises her perfect life may not be so, well, perfect.
There is magic here. Allusions to Scottish folklore, a nod of the hat at changelings, and hints that Tamsin’s mysterious boyfriend may be sìth. This is subtle, though, and some readers may take this simply as the fragile mental state of a woman dealing with grief following the death of her brother and subsequent disappearance of her sister.
The story unfolds across two timelines. We are given a third-person narrative of Freya’s search for her sister that is happening now, while Tamsin’s sections are presented in first-person as snippets of her diary leading up to her disappearance. It was a little jarring through the first few switches in perspective due to the first and third person points of view, but this is nit-picking. While the different timelines are unconventional, it works as a clever device to mine the depths of these two characters.
This is a beautifully written book. It’s not filled with action. It’s not brimming with magic or fantasy. What you get is a heart-wrenching reflection on the depths of grief. It’s in some ways a slow burn, literary, and oh so good.
A mark of a great novel is how long it stays in your mind, turning over and prodding you when you least expect it. Months on, I am still thinking about Freya and Tamsin, and I would urge you to pick up a copy and do the same.
The Way the Light Bends | By Lorraine Wilson | 300 pp. | Luna Press | Paperback £12.99