Day 315: Beyond Black

Cover for Beyond BlackI have liked almost everything I have read by Hilary Mantel but could not finish Beyond Black. It is supposed to be extremely black humor, which I usually enjoy, and the idea is certainly an entertaining one, but somehow I felt it went too far, at least for me.

Alison is a medium who travels the rounds of the psychic “fayres.” She actually does see and hear the dead. Alison meets Colette, an event planner, who she hires as her personal assistant. Soon, the two women are sharing a house in a suburban wasteland, where apparently all hell breaks loose. (I did not get this far in the novel.)

Mantel’s skewering of the “fayres” is amusing. Another clever idea in the novel is that the dead are a bunch of seedy characters obsessed with trivial things, just as are many people in life. However, after awhile the sheer bulk of the trivialities becomes overwhelming.

Alison’s spirit guide, Morris, instead of being the traditional Indian chief or swami, is the ghost of an actual hoodlum Alison knew when she was young. I could deal with the spirits constantly talking about minutia, but Morris was incredibly repulsive and disgusting. With the mundanity going over the top combined with my disgust at Morris, I stopped reading.

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