58: Blue Murder

18 May

I do love a Gothic fairy tale re-imagined, and that’s just what Beatrix Christian has done with Blue Murder.

Blue Murder

Remember the story of Bluebeard? How the new wife comes to the castle and discovers the corpses of all the murdered wives? That’s basically the premise of Blue Murder, only this time it’s an Australian girl from the country: Eve. She’s the original woman with a name that’s a a palindrome and being able to go backwards or forwards in time might just be what she needs to get out of the tricky mess she finds herself in.

Blue is a writer living on Blackrock, a “vile cathedral under the waves”, with “stone roots that go right under the harbour, even underneath Sydney”. Blue has advertised for a personal assistant and Evelyn catches a train from Nyngan to apply for the job.

This is not a children’s fairytale: the word ‘cock’ is used in the very first line, and it doesn’t refer to a rooster. There’s lots of sex and talk of sex. There’s also murder and poetry and beautiful language. The ghosts of Blue’s three dead wives appear from the walls arguing and pleading with the passion of women forever stopped at a burning moment.

Stories are woven and broken as the writer seeks his muse, knowing that when he finds her, he will have to kill her.

BLUE: You plant an acorn. What will it become.

EVE: I’m sick of stories.

BLUE: Play with me.

[…]

BLUE: Gypsies dance in the acorn field. An alchemist empties her pail of chemicals onto it. The Devil marches through it in bloody boots. The poor, frightened, little acorn absorbs everything. She evolves, she transmogrifies, into a slippery hipogriff with its tail rooted so deeply in the dirt some hungry Chinaman will mistake it for a radish.

I love the way Beatrix Christian has blended archetypes and myths with headstrong, determined young women to create a Gothic fantasy with red-blooded, gutsy characters.

Publisher: Currency Press

Cast: 4F, 2M

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