A story of the haunted and the haunting.
I read The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams in choppy, disruptive spurts of time. The story therefore ingrained itself into my days and imbued them with the creepy airs found in this book. I was under the misconception it was about three girls wandering through the desert, and was surprised the desert played a nominal role in the story.
The three girls – Alice, Corvus and Annabel are disconnected youth searching for connection in the desperate landscape of their tragedy stricken lives. Alice is funny, jaded and cause-driven. She asserts her environmentalism wherever possible, much to the irritation of other characters and makes herself fall in love with an ageing piano player simply because he is inappropriate. Corvus is just plain sad, her end befitting her life. Annabelle is a more typical teenager transplanted to the desert by her haunted father.
Annabelle’s dad Carter, plus her ghost mom, Ginger, were my favourite characters of the book. Eerie, unsettling, yet believable in an ‘is it real or is he losing his mind’ kind of way. Certain characters were introduced late in the book and felt unnecessary (Ray and Ray’s parents) yet added to the overall absurdity of the cast of characters, already strange and outcast.
The biggest contributing factor to the unsettling quality of this book, is the continual shift in perspective. Scenes with multiple characters find the narrative jumping from head to head. The reader is then bombarded with multiple snippets of perspective, instead of one unfolding viewpoint.
All this against a backdrop littered with the dead and the dying. I love the way this book ends. I love the way the loose ends are tied up and I would recommend this book for times when you need to puzzle over something other than your own world, preferably before bed to get the most of the dreams sure to ensue.