Published Mar 2012
In the house where Marie lives, the cutlery is running wild .
Madness and fairy story creep hand in hand in this darkly comic tale. At the top of a narrow driveway there is a shambling Victorian house full of dust and stairs. The walls inside are ancient emulsion, sloughing off the distemper walls in gorgeous ribbons.
The mice that infest the dining room chimney-breast are living out their own dreams and nightmares, learning voodoo and the meaning of love and forgiveness. In The Knife Drawer, dead bodies miraculously vanish as if scraped to nothing by pudding spoons.
Marie’s mother has rather lost her wits since she did away with her husband. She could swear they’re out to get her; even the house gets messy on purpose, all by itself. Marie’s twin is living in a hole in the back-garden, small and round as a cherry pip, waiting to be discovered.
In The Knife Drawer the steak knives grow so hungry that they scream. When the children murder the rent man, things get a little out of hand .
Tarrant has a rare talent for describing metamorphosis. The power of this bizarre tale is in the telling, couched plausibly within the canons of literary fiction. It is more than a trifle gothic, with a violet tinge of Angela Carter. Tarrant’s language is gorgeous, resonant and powerful, deployed with perfect control and flashlit by sudden anarchic humour. To read this book is to live through something extraordinary.
Elspeth Barker, Literary Review