Hot on the heels of my interview with the author, the fabulous Mark Mayes (check it out HERE) I review his stunning debut novel The Gift Maker. Unlike many of my usual go-tos this is not Crime Fiction or a rip roaring thriller; in fact, it is tough to place this extraordinary novel in any genre at all.
If I had to pick one, I would say this is a human drama. The novel follows a group of people, some of whom are connected and some who are complete strangers, who are given unexpected gifts, which come with a cost that changes their lives forever. Drawn into the life of the titular gift maker himself, the group is pushed to its limits as they explore the nature of relationships and the importance of their own identities.
If you’re a fan of this blog then as you’ll already know, I’m a big fan of strong, idiosyncratic dialogue in novels, as both a part of the narrative in itself and a method of characterisation, and I very much enjoyed the dialogue in The Gift Maker. The expression’ old fruit’ is a particular favourite of mine and seeing it appear here really endeared me to this fascinating and thought-provoking novel.
Characterisation is also vital in a novel such as this, and Mayes is particularly good at creating characters with real depth and versatility, allowing the reader to become interested in their fate whilst remaining detached thanks to his at times almost clinical narrative style, which lends the novel an almost surreal edge.
Whilst I don’t normally enjoy novels which focus too much around the human condition, I found myself strangely hooked by this addictive and riveting novel. From its characters to its tantalising plot, every element is at its best as Mayes crafts an intriguing and rich narrative around this seemingly simple plot, which quickly becomes deeply interesting.