Monthly Archives: February 2008

‘THE DEADLY SPACE BETWEEN’ by Patricia Duncker

P A T R I C I A  D U N C K E R


  Patricia Duncker is the author of three novels, Hallucinating Foucalt (1996), James Miranda Barry (1999), and The Deadly Space Between (2002), and a collection of short fiction, Monsieur Shoushana’s Lemon Trees (1997). She has also published a collection of essays on writing and contemporary literature, Writing on the Wall (2002). She is a professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia.



by P a t r i c i a D u n c k e r

‘Combines intellectual playfulness with the deadly suspense of a thriller’

Literary Review 

reviewed by expiring_touch


               I laid my hands on this book by Patricia Duncker by sheer accident — mainly because of Stacey who praised it such a lot. So I waited for something spectacular, extravagant, something, which would blow me off my bed (where I usually read my books). Yet the beginning was rather unpromising. Short, sharply cut sentences, despite their unquestionable potency, didn’t grasp me as much as I hoped they would.

She came home smelling of cigarettes. She didn’t smoke… She must be going out with someone who smokes

— this isn’t really my kind of favorite prose. But I gave the book a chance, I let it unfold before me, capture me, bewitch me. I submitted to Duncker’s writing powers, which held me mesmerized for hours on end while I was reading the book and still long after I’d turned the last page.


I only hope that Roehm doesn’t come back to haunt me in my nightmares’

Scotland on Sunday


               ‘The deadly space between’ tells the disturbing tale of an 18 year-old boy, Toby Hawk, whose life changes radically after the appearance of his mother’s lover, Roehm.

            This book in many ways is a coming of age story: the reader becomes the silent witness of the transformations that occur to the main character, Toby, — the striking boost of his intellectual and creative powers, the dramatic shift in his perception of himself and the world around him.

Sex, especially, plays a crucial role in this — it is woven into the narrative, easily and eloquently, without the unhealthy flush of chastity or the perverse grin of exhibitionism.

Even though, the issues tackled in The deadly space between can be found extremely disturbing and even repulsive.

‘Duncker is a mesmerizing stylist’

‘Disturbingly haunting. . . the descriptions linger in the mind’

Times Literary Supplement


              Imagery is stunning. Throughout the book, the reader is haunted by the ever-present images of ice and cold. Duncker’s Alps are as breathtaking as they could have been had I stood on the edge of the precipice myself and seen everything with my own eyes.

‘With sparkling locations and Duncker’s seamless, almost hypnotic prose. . . The Deadly Space Between is proof that the ghost story is back, and with a shocking twist


              It should also be said that towards the end I couldn’t find even a trace of those crudely crafted sentences of the beginning.

              The language develops along with the main character; and finally Duncker lets herself go — she no longer restrains herself but uses every tool in her vast language inventory to the full. The result is amazing; no doubt, it brings the author of The deadly space between to the fore of today’s literary world.

              All in all, I can confess that I enjoyed this book immensely; I was absolutely taken in by the decadent, slightly disconcerting and highly seductive feel of The deadly space between.

              I recommend it highly.  

Literary praise  star50_tpng

‘Freud would have loved to have placed these characters on his couch; the general reader should rush to add them to his bookshelf’

                                               Daily Mail

 ‘A psychological thriller-cum-ghost story in the great neogothic European tradition, steeped with references to Frankenstein, Faust and Freud. With sparkling locations and Duncker’s seamless, almost hypnotic prose… The Deadly Space Between is proof that the ghost story is back, and with a shocking twist’ 


Patricia Duncker writes beatifully with a flamboyant immediacy… Her plot is complex, her characters’ motives persuasively ambigiuous and the encounters between Toby and the inexplicable Roehm have the requisite  purtenances of a creepy horror story’

Sunday Telegraph

 ‘The Deadly Space Between confirms Patricia Duncker’s reputation as a writer who brilliantly realises ambitious themes… [her] ability to combine intellectual rigour with flamboyant storytelling is perfectly showcased in this powerfully imagined and most impressive novel’

Big Issue

 ‘Such a compelling read that your really don’t want to put it down. I only hope that Roehm doesn’t come back to haunt me in my nightmares’

Scotland on Sunday

‘Disturbingly haunting. . . the descriptions linger in the mind’

Times Literary Supplement

‘An elegant, psychologically astute exploration of the way in which jealousy, love and fear combine to shape identity’

New Statesman

‘The tale wins you over through its sheer eloquence and nerve. . . Holds the reader’s attention to the last’

The Times

‘Duncker is a mesmerizing stylist’

Times Literary Supplement


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