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Darkmans by Nicola Barker

Darkmans is set in Ashford and revolves around a man named Beede, who is estranged from his son, Kane, even though they still live together. Kane steals drugs from the hospital where his father works, has a girlfriend, Kelly, from the criminal family in town, and employs a Kurdish man who longs for Kelly and has a morbid fear of lettuce. Beede is upset by the homogenization of Ashford, and he's involved in forgery and research about John Scogin, jester in the court of Edward IV. He's seeing a woman named Elen, whose husband suffers some sort of mental illness, and their son, Fleet, can build cathedrals out of matchsticks. Fleet can also recite parts of John Scogin's biography, and may actually be older than his parents. Nicola Barker's novel has received mostly positive reviews with The Guardian saying, "Darkmans is just the sort of bravura performance that will probably inspire vitriol in a certain breed of reviewer as too ostentatious, too brazen. Pity them, reader, for being unable to embrace such a loud shout of glorious, untidy, angry, joyous life. Barker is a great, restless novelist, and Darkmans is a great, restless novel. At the end of 838 blinding, high-octane pages, I was bereft that there weren't 838 more."
Buy Darkmans by Nicola Barker
The Guardian review by Patrick Ness

London Times review by Hugo Barnacle

The Independent review by Matt Thorne

New York Times review by Sylvia Brownrigg review by Laura Miller

Los Angeles Times review by Nick Owchar

Nicola Barker
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