Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott – review


by Kirstyn McDermott

Published by Twelfth Planet Press

Two sisters. One wish. Unimaginable consequences.

Not all fairy tales are for children.

Perfections is the second novel from Australian writer, Kirstyn McDermott. Originally published electronic-only, it won the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel in 2013. Now reissued in print and ebook, it’s entirely worth your time to read it in whatever format you prefer.

It primarily tells the story of a family – two sisters, Antoinette and Jacqueline, and their cold, hard-hearted mother, Sally. It tells a lot more story than this, of course, but it’s one of those books that’s really hard to review without any spoilers. It’s best if every delicious morsel reveals itself as the author intended. Suffice to say that Antoinette discovers a magical ability within herself that greatly complicates everything around her, especially life for her art gallery assistant sister and distant mother.

This book is fantastic in the truest sense of the word, with the darkness of the fantasy beautifully drawn out by McDermott’s lyrical prose. She’s an excellent writer and I think she’s found a voice here far more developed than any of her other work. And the book is dark. It’s a slow and subtle horror, that reveals itself in layers. The first real bombshell hits around the halfway mark after a strong and engaging build-up and the hits keep coming after that. The characters are all beautifully realised, all the moreso for the things we learn about them as the book progresses.

If I have one complaint, it’s that McDermott shies away ever so slightly from the brutality of the end of the story. Events progress to an inevitable climax – at least, one of several potentially inevitable climaxes – yet we see it from a remove and in a kind of shorthand that hadn’t been in effect for the rest of the book, at least not for such key events. Regardless, this is an outstanding book that I can’t recommend highly enough.



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About Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He is the author of the dark urban fantasy trilogy, Bound, Obsidian and Abduction (The Alex Caine Series) published by HarperVoyager Australia, and the dark urban fantasy duology, RealmShift and MageSign (The Balance 1 and 2) from Gryphonwood Press. He co-authored the short horror novel, Dark Rite, with David Wood. Alan also writes short fiction with more than 50 stories published in a variety of journals and anthologies in Australia, the US, the UK and France. His short fiction has appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction (forthcoming), Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Postscripts, and Midnight Echo, among many others, and more than twenty anthologies, including the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror (2010 and 2012). Alan also writes narrative arcs and dialogue for videogames and wrote the popular writer’s resource, Write The Fight Right, a short ebook about writing convincing fight scenes. He has twice been a finalist in the Ditmar Awards.

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