Way back when, before this blog was born, I read Benjamin Wood‘s debut novel The Bellwether Revivals, and was dazzled by it. Seriously great with that Donna Tartt feel to it. So when The Ecliptic came out and was described as a mix of Donna Tartt and Patricia Highsmith, the only option open to me was to read it. The problem is those are mighty big shoes to fill and i wish I had never heard the comparisons.
The Ecliptic is good and can stand on its own as a bit of a psychological drama and meditation on the artistic process. It is seemingly set on an island off the coast of Istanbul, at an artists’ refuge. The artists gathered from around the world, work in anonymity. It is all very clandestine and secretive. And of course, there is something weird going on. I refuse to say more.
The Ecliptic is a complex novel that doesn’t really come together until the end. In fact, i did not like the structure of it at all until I had that a-ha! moment. As a whole, the novel can be seen as rather brilliant. It’s complex, full of imagery and symbolism that i’d love to study and breakdown sometime.
Who would like this book? For me The Ecliptic had many of my calling cards – far away location, closed society, bit of a mystery – and it was just what the doctor ordered. Though it falls short of Tartt and Highsmith, the reality is most stuff does. There’s lots to enjoy in the artistic process in The Ecliptic, especially painting. But at the end of the day, if I were to recommend Wood to you (and I do) I’d go with The Bellwether Revivals. It’s superb, whereas The Ecliptic is merely good-to- very-good.