Read Something New Review


by Patrick DeWitt


"...if love had so degraded a personage of the barons powers, what might it do to him?"


Tender, endearing and laced with comical black humour, this is a delightful tale of soul searching determination as the protagonist Lucien Minor undertakes a new role as the Under Major Domo at the foreboding Castle Von Aux in the employ of one very distraught Baron Von Aux.


On arrival Lucien is full of trepidation and palpable excitement, but soon develops a humorous friendship on introduction to the Major Domo, the aged but spirited Mr Olderglough. Romantically challenged, Lucien soon discovers the love of his life in the nearby village and soon explores his new found feelings for Klara. But don't be mistaken, this isn't a simple story of boy meets girl. DeWitt cleverly weaves a gothic tale of love, loss and comic debauchery!


As the Baron resurrects from his former demise and makes a spectacular comeback after waiting for his wife to return from years of absence, Lucien unknowingly embarks on a life affirming journey that sees his resilience tested in love, is enlightened of life's curious afflictions and sincerely embracing his new role, he is clueless as to what happens behind closed doors (what happens in the Ballroom, stays in the Ballroom!). Inevitably, murder & satirical mayhem quickly ensues!


"Lucy quit the room. Clear of the doorway, he started running. Agnes stayed behind, pouring herself a brandy, and sitting with a sigh in the settee. She sipped her drink, looking about the room with a wary expression. There was something about the ballroom that had always bothered her."


The tone of the prose incites mischief and mystery, the language is poetically fluid and as the undercurrent of witty black humour evolved, I found myself captivated by the unfortunate events, giggling at the sarcastic retorts and enamoured by the flow of such cleverly mastered language that exudes a perfect synergy to the storyline. What makes this special? Quite simply the sense of endearing naivety of Lucien so graciously developed by DeWitt. He instills a depth of tenderness that resonates so fully as the plot develops but does not detract from the light, satirical humour and clever dialogue.


Suffice to say, I have loved this classic DeWitt tale. The lighthearted, black humour reminiscent of an episode of BlackAdder and the non-sensical, highly entertaining comedy of The Grand Budapest Hotel kept me smiling wholeheartedly as the situation unfolded to a heartwarming conclusion. Don't miss out on a truly engrossing story that sucks you right in and so rapturously devours your senses!


Reviewed by Lyndsy Kirkman on behalf of Chapter One Books