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Lunatics
Bradley Denton
Bantam Books, 336 pages

A review by Margo MacDonald

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Lunatics is the fourth novel from Denton, following WRACK & ROLL (1986), the John W. Campbell award-winning BUDDY HOLLY IS ALIVE AND WELL ON GANYMEDE (1991), and BLACKBURN (1993), the tale of a morally righteous murderer. This time out, Bradley Denton tries his hand at romantic fantasy with the story of Jack, a widower who is finally beginning to reach out again, to a woman he calls Lilith... except that Lilith appears to be a moon goddess, and Jack believes the only way to contact her is to stand outside naked in the moonlight.

I must admit I'm feeling ambiguous about this book. On one hand, it was swift-moving and fairly entertaining with a few humourous and touching moments, but on the other hand, it left me feeling somewhat disappointed.

There is a lot of sex -- no, not actual scenes of sex, but a lot of the before and after bits. This springs out of Jack's affair with the moon goddess Lilith (who is not at all mythologically accurate, but I'm willing to allow Denton a bit of creative license). The purpose of Lilith's timeless existence seems to be to fly down to earth every full moon to have sex with men and screw up their lives. The story explores what happens to Jack's group of friends as a result of this other-worldly affair. It's kind of like The Big Chill for goddess worshippers -- only without the cool soundtrack.

Jack has five friends, three women and two men, and I think the main problem for me was that it was really hard to actually care for these people. Jack is rather endearing but very little of the story is told from his point of view. The other characters, particularly the women, are all very small and selfish and actually learn very little in the space of a year spent cavorting with a goddess. I will admit to being left with the feeling that Denton actually knows very little about women, or at any rate, is only familiar with one kind of woman. All of the women in the book (including the goddess) are essentially the same just a scratch below the surface and it bothered me that these women of apparently different education levels and backgrounds should feel precisely the same way on so many issues (particularly sex). I have never found this to be true among any group of women.

But you know, the book moves so quickly that before you blink you are half way through it and you've kind of gotten used to the characters enough to at least want to see how the book ends. And it does end, rather charmingly, if perhaps a little too cleanly. I can't help feeling though like something was missing, some element or saving grace that would have made it complete. And so I'm ambivalent; I think I may have enjoyed this book but I'm not entirely sure.

Copyright © 1997 by Margo MacDonald

Margo has always been drawn toward fantasy and, at the age of 5, decided to fill her life with it by pursuing a career as a professional actress. Aside from theatre (and her husband), Margo's passion has been for books. Her interests are diverse and eclectic, but the bulk fall within the realm of speculative fiction. She tells us that her backlog has reached 200 books and she's ready to win the lottery and retire.

Lunatics
Bradley Denton Related Links
Denton's Home Page
Denton Biography
Spectra Feature
Spectra Lunatics page
Official Lunatics Page
Excerpt from Lunatics
Past Feature Reviews


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