Emily Mackie was brought up in Scotland and the characters she draws in the small town are strong and believable . . . she writes beautiful, clever, often funny prose that challenges conventions . . . It hops about, forwards and backwards, diverting from third-person to first-person, from years ahead to years before, until the reader is almost dizzy from trying to keep up with the sequence of events. But it is only then, having disorientated the reader that Mackie begins subtly, layer by layer, peeling away the preconceptions that she herself has introduced and revealing the truth of the matter.
Her first book, And This Is True, created an eccentric, closed world of drifters and outsiders; In Search of Solace, with similar panache and aplomb, maps a small Highland town . . . there is plenty to relish here, particularly in the character of Lucy and the imagining of the tense little town.
Accomplished . . . Although the characters are a fascinating bundle of quirks, archetypes and meticulously original characterisation, Mackie's unique narrative voice is the real highlight . . . A nuanced look at identity, memory and modern Britain, In Search of Solace is a novel in the vein of Iain Banks at his best.
"With me as your guide," says the narrator of this extraordinary novel, "you will see the awkward uncomfortable, the gruesome grotesque, the rancid bilious retching of life." This is undoubtedly true - but you'll also see humour, scary amounts of imaginative energy and writing that crackles with talent.
The reader is pulled in by this book's strange charm, so that, by the end, it's likely you'll have started thinking about the concept of identity - including your own. It's not a comfortable read - disturbing, rather - but confirms Mackie, whose first novel was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, as someone to keep an eye on.
This is a cautionary tale about the way we live now, and the importance of being rooted in one identity . . . Mackie uses time loops to build a complex and intriguing mystery around Jacob, who although flawed, is incredibly compelling . . . An accomplished, fresh and darkly comic second novel