A serving of NZ gothic…

…and very tasty it is too.
Craig Cliff’s new novel The Mannequin Makers (Vintage) is an unusual tale about a window dresser, Colton Kemp, who responds to the distress occasioned by his wife’s death, the competition roused by a new rival and the  charms and excitements of a travelling vaudeville company by deciding to raise his two young children to be living mannequins. As you do.

Cliff won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best First Book for A Man Melting in 2011 so it was with anticipation I picked this one up. It is well-written, oddly compelling and quite a story. The blurb alone left me slightly unsettled but the gothic/hairs-lifting-on-the-back-of-the-neck aspects are handled subtly and do not overpower what is quite a tale of adventure (encompassing New Zealand, a rock in the Southern Ocean and Sydney’s northern beaches) as well as an exploration of the snares and struggles of growing up in this unusual family.

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