Beyond Black

Beyond Black

by Hilary Mantel

I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation Minute. The book is Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel.

I have to say this is one of the oddest, creepiest books I have ever read. We follow the lives of Alison, a very overweight psychic, and her partner, skinny and sour Colette. So at first I’m thinking, a buddy story, where the characters learn and grow! Not so much. Alison is the real thing, she sees the dead everywhere, and in one of the best conceits of this book, it turns out they’re as boring and petty as the living. Alison is guided, haunted and bullied by the gang of thugs and thieves that tormented her as a child — back when they were alive. Her struggle to do positive acts while under assault is both horrible and weirdly funny. This is a very strange book. In Beyond Black, Mantel shows us an England far from a green and pleasant land — but full of endless motorways and torn up for construction. So it’s about finding your way when the road isn’t obvious, in this life and the next. Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel. I’m Kim Alexander on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel.

This odd, creepy and very well written book shows us the life of a traveling psychic, the kind who gets on stage and gives you messages from beyond. In this case, Alison is the real thing. The dead, it turns out, are boring, petty, unhelpful and often malicious. It’s like begin trapped on the number 90 bus forever. Alison’s spirit guide, Morris, and his gang of punks once tormented her and her horrible drunken mother, and they have followed her from the next world, for reason we find near the end of this book. Beyond Black, for all its unpleasant characters, is blackly funny and paints an unlovely picture of England — all the motorways and McMansions — overly helpful and perky neighbors — they think Alison is with the weather service- but the darkness around the edges comes right up through the ground. You can’t escape your past, especially not when he’s an apparition in your living room. Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel. I’m Kim Alexander on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel.

I started out thinking this was going to be one of those books where flawed characters come together, learn and grow. I was happily mistaken. We meet very overweight psychic Alison, guided by demons and haunted by food, and her partner, the sour and skinny Colette, who never misses an opportunity to snark about Alison’s weight. They live together, work together, and can’t stand each other. Alison is slightly more sympathetic, but dramatic, self deluding and needy. Her life is such a mess, I gave her a break. Colette, while a sharp, efficient business person, her I wanted to kill. But she’d probably just come back to haunt me. The gaggle of spirits in Beyond Black who trail around after Alison are the rough and tumble thugs and thieves who once were attached to her equally appalling mother. Great characters, hideous in person.  In fact that sums up this brutally funny, very dark and extremely creepy novel. Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel. I’m Kim Alexander on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.


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