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The devil's daughter rows to Edinburgh in a coffin, to work as maid for the Minister of Culture, a man who lives a dual life. But the real reason she's there is to bear him and his barren wife a child, the consequences of which curse the tenement building that is their home for a hundred years. As we travel through the nine floors of the building and the next eight decades The devil's daughter rows to Edinburgh in a coffin, to work as maid for the Minister of Culture, a man who lives a dual life. But the real reason she's there is to bear him and his barren wife a child, the consequences of which curse the tenement building that is their home for a hundred years. As we travel through the nine floors of the building and the next eight decades, the resident's lives entwine over the ages and in unpredictable ways. Along the way we encounter the city's most infamous Madam, a seance, a civil rights lawyer, a bone mermaid, a famous Beat poet, a notorious Edinburgh gang, a spy, the literati, artists, thinkers, strippers, the spirit world - until a cosmic agent finally exposes the true horror of the building's longest kept secret. No. 10 Luckenbooth Close hurtles the reader through personal and global history - eerily reflecting modern life today.


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The devil's daughter rows to Edinburgh in a coffin, to work as maid for the Minister of Culture, a man who lives a dual life. But the real reason she's there is to bear him and his barren wife a child, the consequences of which curse the tenement building that is their home for a hundred years. As we travel through the nine floors of the building and the next eight decades The devil's daughter rows to Edinburgh in a coffin, to work as maid for the Minister of Culture, a man who lives a dual life. But the real reason she's there is to bear him and his barren wife a child, the consequences of which curse the tenement building that is their home for a hundred years. As we travel through the nine floors of the building and the next eight decades, the resident's lives entwine over the ages and in unpredictable ways. Along the way we encounter the city's most infamous Madam, a seance, a civil rights lawyer, a bone mermaid, a famous Beat poet, a notorious Edinburgh gang, a spy, the literati, artists, thinkers, strippers, the spirit world - until a cosmic agent finally exposes the true horror of the building's longest kept secret. No. 10 Luckenbooth Close hurtles the reader through personal and global history - eerily reflecting modern life today.

30 review for Luckenbooth

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is strange, beautifully crafted, extraordinary and gothic storytelling, in the tradition of the horror that underlies the darkest of fairytales flavoured with the supernatural, from author and poet Jenni Fagan. Split into 3 parts, set in Edinburgh, we follow various characters through a time period of almost a century, getting glimpses of lives and events that occur at the eerie and dangerous 10 Luckenbooth Close. Luckenbooth is a piece of jewellery, a witch's brooch or ring given to a fian This is strange, beautifully crafted, extraordinary and gothic storytelling, in the tradition of the horror that underlies the darkest of fairytales flavoured with the supernatural, from author and poet Jenni Fagan. Split into 3 parts, set in Edinburgh, we follow various characters through a time period of almost a century, getting glimpses of lives and events that occur at the eerie and dangerous 10 Luckenbooth Close. Luckenbooth is a piece of jewellery, a witch's brooch or ring given to a fiancee, with a silver heart, with two hands holding it, reputed to protect the wearer from the evil eye. The 9 storey blood soaked tenement building is imbued with a heavy, inescapable sense of menace and dread, indeed, when Jessie McRae arrives, she is warned not to enter. Having killed her father, Jessie has rowed the waters in her coffin to Edinburgh, claiming to be the devil's daughter, with horns growing out of her head. Ostensibly to serve as a maid to the owner of the building, Mr Udnam, engaged to Elise, in reality Jessie was sold by her father to provide them with a child. A child that comes into being rather sooner than might be expected, with Jessie naming her Hope, a daughter she cannot let go of as she and Elise become lovers. As tragedy ensues and curses issue forth, the repercussions are to echo throughout the 20th century and connect with the lives of those who inhabit the building in the differing apartments. As blood flows and horror builds, in 1928 Flora attends a drag ball where all manner of sexual acts take place, drugs and drink flow, at the home of a married ex-lover that betrayed her. Blind in one eye, the gifted spiritualist and high priestess Agnes with an ouija board, holds a seance that is to test her to her limits. As the stories of others in the building are revealed, we learn that the indomitable spirits of women cannot be controlled, limited, abused, or walled in without consequences. This novel drips with lyricism and atmosphere, a building that in so many ways mirrors the darkness, criminality and injustices of Edinburgh itself. 10 Luckenbooth Close is home to death, the sounds of cloven hoofs, witches, demons, mermaids constructed of bones, madness, chaos, skeletons, ghosts, deathwatch beetles, and the devil himself perhaps, but if so the devil is in the world, having grown stronger through the virus of language and words as William Burroughs, a man who killed his wife but whose wealth kept him safe, claims to his lover, John. This is not going to be a book for everyone, but I found it poetic, spellbinding and enthralling, a gripping read that I recommend to those who seek tales of the darkest side of life. Many thanks to Random House Cornerstone for an ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Ideally I would give this 4.5 at time of finishing. It could go up to a 5 once it settles.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    These buildings tell their stories - in sound - like a well-oiled clock. Noises are passed from floor to floor like notes passed in school to inform tenants of each other's indiscretions, inabilities or occasional talents. This is an engaging read for sure but not nearly as weird as I expected from the reviews, and perhaps best suited to those who enjoy anthologies and short stories. There is a central conceit which ties the whole thing together: that of the Luckenbooth building in Edinburgh These buildings tell their stories - in sound - like a well-oiled clock. Noises are passed from floor to floor like notes passed in school to inform tenants of each other's indiscretions, inabilities or occasional talents. This is an engaging read for sure but not nearly as weird as I expected from the reviews, and perhaps best suited to those who enjoy anthologies and short stories. There is a central conceit which ties the whole thing together: that of the Luckenbooth building in Edinburgh in which nine inhabitants live, writing over each other's stories, like a palimpsest, across the years of the twentieth century. Structurally formal, this has three sections, each containing three characters whose lives are rendered in three alternating sections, and each section covers a trio of years in calendar order: so 1910s-1930s in the first set, 1940s-1960s in the second, and ending with 1970s-1990s. Inevitably, as is frequently the case with short story collections, some will be more meaningful and interesting to individual readers than others. Personally, I liked the earliest set best (Jessie, Flora and Levi), found the 1963 sections featuring William Burroughs tiresome, and liked the 1970s-1990s parts least as they felt derivative of much contemporary Scottish fiction (the depredations of the Thatcher years, drug culture, HIV, the sex industry). Fagan has imagination and the stories with surreal elements appealed most. But the writing can get overly stylised with short. fragmented. one-word. sentences. too often for my liking. There are also places where the book becomes a soap-box: now, I suspect I share Fagan's politics pretty closely but long diatribes against the patriarchy, against racism, against humanity's plundering of the planet, even a dire warning at the end against pandemics all had me rolling my eyes and groaning. Not because it's not true but because it's preachy and doesn't say anything that we don't already know. Far more appealing are the stories of Jessie, the self-styled Devil's daughter (view spoiler)[who seems to have killed her abusive father before fleeing her home (hide spoiler)] , beautiful Flora and the drag balls, and Black American Levi writing letters home to his brother on the 1939 eve of WW2. Overall, then, this is thoughtful and lightly innovative. I liked the Angela Carter elements. And the trope of using a building to 'travel' through 20th century Edinburgh reminded me of The Underground Railroad where the literalised railway becomes a way to transport us through time and American geography. I was just expecting something slightly weirder and more fantastical than I got. Thanks to Random House/Cornerstone for an ARC via NetGalley

  4. 4 out of 5

    Neale

    From the opening page, a darkness hangs over the novel like a pall over a coffin, which is ironic because the protagonist is rowing her way to Luckenbooth Close, Edinburgh, in her coffin. Yes, I did say her coffin. We learn some important information while she rows. She refers to herself as the devil’s daughter. “The sea won’t take me. I am the devil’s daughter. Nobody wants responsibility for my immortal soul.” She keeps crossing herself three times. Why do this if you are the devil’s daughter? S From the opening page, a darkness hangs over the novel like a pall over a coffin, which is ironic because the protagonist is rowing her way to Luckenbooth Close, Edinburgh, in her coffin. Yes, I did say her coffin. We learn some important information while she rows. She refers to herself as the devil’s daughter. “The sea won’t take me. I am the devil’s daughter. Nobody wants responsibility for my immortal soul.” She keeps crossing herself three times. Why do this if you are the devil’s daughter? She also says that she must perfectly hide the tips of her horns. Yes she has a pair of incipient horns. She has been told that nobody can ever find the address she seeks, Number Ten, Luckenbooth Close. But she can. At her destination, the gargoyles that adorn the cupola on the top floor stare down at her 9 floors below. She is greeted by a huge woman who seems to give her nothing but warnings. Don’t do this, never do that, do not enter the basement. “If you do one thing wrong, they will hang you by morning.” The darkness thickens. We learn her name is Jessie. She is to work as a maid to Mr Udnam. But in truth her father has sold her to him, and she is to bear him a child. The novel is divided into three parts with each part containing three different stories, one for each floor in ascending order. Not only that, the narrative flows forward in time with each story and floor as well. The first story we have already touched on. The devil’s daughter is contracted to the owner of Luckenbooth Close to bear him a child. It begins in 1910 in the first floor flat 1F1. The second story takes place on the second flat 2F2 and it is 1928. This branch of the narrative takes place in a drag ball where every decadent desire can be catered for. The last story of Act 1 moves to the flat above and 1939 is now the date. A bone library now occupies this flat. The protagonist of this branch of the narrative is constructing a bone mermaid. The narrative will follow this structure, covering all nine floors of 10 Luckenbooth Close and will span over 80 years. Aside from the residents already mentioned, there is a World War 2 spy, a fight between rival gangs, a séance and so much more. Each floor contains its own story. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all connected in various ways to the very first story involving the devil’s daughter and a curse that enshrouds the building. This wonderful novel is like a dark gothic fairy tale, albeit one that has a much larger sinister degree of horror embedded within. If dark gothic tales are your thing then you are in for a treat with this novel. I have not encountered a novel with this narrative structure before and Fagan does an incredible job of tying all the strings of the branching narrative together, never letting the reader get lost, and believe me this is no easy feat. One of the best novels I have read this year, and one I will be returning to. 5 Stars. Thanks to Netgally and Random House for the ARC.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Calzean

    Three part novel. Each part has three characters living in various years across the 20th century. Each character is given three chapters. What binds them together is they all live or lived in 10 Luckenbooth Close. The opening features Jessie McRae who rows herself to Edinburgh in a coffin. She says she is the devil's daughter and she has killed her father. This darkness continues through the book with murders, ghosts, violent sex, seances, revenge and gang wars. I was most impressed with the writi Three part novel. Each part has three characters living in various years across the 20th century. Each character is given three chapters. What binds them together is they all live or lived in 10 Luckenbooth Close. The opening features Jessie McRae who rows herself to Edinburgh in a coffin. She says she is the devil's daughter and she has killed her father. This darkness continues through the book with murders, ghosts, violent sex, seances, revenge and gang wars. I was most impressed with the writing with different styles and voices for each character. It is dark but it is entertaining.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul Fulcher

    Edinburgh seduces with her ancient buildings. She pours alcohol or food down the throats of anyone passing, dangles her trinkets, leaves pockets bare. She’s a pickpocket. The best kind of thief, one you think of–most fondly. When two separate newspapers hail as novel as likely to be the weirdest of 2021, and do so in the early days of January, this reader’s attention is caught: ”Nazi spies, a vampire and the devil's daughter – is Jenni Fagan's Luckenbooth the weirdest book of 2021? This gothic tal Edinburgh seduces with her ancient buildings. She pours alcohol or food down the throats of anyone passing, dangles her trinkets, leaves pockets bare. She’s a pickpocket. The best kind of thief, one you think of–most fondly. When two separate newspapers hail as novel as likely to be the weirdest of 2021, and do so in the early days of January, this reader’s attention is caught: ”Nazi spies, a vampire and the devil's daughter – is Jenni Fagan's Luckenbooth the weirdest book of 2021? This gothic tale of a creepy Edinburgh tenement building's denizens is seedy, sexy and strange.” Francesca Carrington, Telegraph “Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan — a strong contender for the weirdest novel of 2021 A tenement building in Edinburgh is home to a bizarre medley of occupants, says Sarah Ditum, Times”. And Luckenbooth is certainly a very striking and unusual novel. It tells the story of an Edinburgh tenement building, down a dark alley, Luckenbooth Clise just off the Royal Mile. No. 10 Luckenbooth Close is called that because of an old word lucken-buith, it’s what they called the first locked booths for trading, they used to drag carts to sell silver and other things but they’d have to cart them back and forth across the city and I tell you, brother, the hills in this city are no joke, if I wasn’t a God-fearing man I’d say they were designed by a psychopath. Anyway, eventually those local traders asked the council if they could lock their booths and that’s how the word came about. Also–a Luckenbooth is a piece of jewelry, worn either as a brooch or a ring that can be given to a fiancée–it is pretty–a silver heart, with two hands holding it. It does so by tracing the history of an eclectic selection of its denizens over the period 1910 to 1999, which include a phengophobic miner, terrified as the mines close and he may have to work above ground, a women training to become a SoE operative in World War II, a medium (who also exposes other, fraudulent, mediums), the author William Burroughs visiting the Book festival, some triad gangsters visiting from Asia, the real-life madam Dora Noyce, and the devil’s own daughter, typically those marginalised from a patriarchal society due to their social status or sexuality. The book is carefully structured, as the author explained in an interview: “It got completely out of control at one point when I decided that the novel was going to be in three parts, and each part would have three decades, and each decade would be revisited three times. And each chapter would be 3,333 words long.” She was persuaded to relax the word constraint but the other structure remains, and indeed as the decades progress, the inhabitants who are the subject of each story live in ever higher floors of the building. (https://www.scotsman.com/arts-and-cul...) So for example, the first third of the novel has the following chapter headings: 1910: Flat 1F1: Jessie MacRae (21): the arrival 1928: Flat 2F2: Flora (33): the drag ball 1939: Flat 3F3: Levi (31): the bone library 1910: Flat 1F1: Jessie MacRae (21): the second day 1928: Flat 2F2: Flora (33): After–everyone arrives 1939: Flat 3F3: Levi (32): the four horsemen of the apocalypse 1913: Flat 1F1: Jessie MacRae (24): the conclusion 1928: Flat 2F2: Flora (33): It’s not my cage 1939: Flat 3F3: Levi (32): fear fir the mermaid Everything arrives and departs at No. 10 Luckenbooth via the stairwell–news and gossip, fear, post, furniture arrives, or is taken out, lots of bags of coal. The stairwell steps are made of stone and they are worn with footsteps from decades of wear, so many people have lived out their lives here, children, old people, friends, lovers, unwanted relatives, a dog on a string, a doctor, an undertaker. How many bodies have been carried out over all that time? How many babies born? As the building gets higher the apartments get smaller. The residents less wealthy, I should be on the top floor, I’m only staying on the third because my employer leased it to me whilst his nephew is away. Further up the building they have four apartments on each landing. If you took off the entire front wall of No. 10 Luckenbooth Close you’d see the basement, stair, floor, room, light, ceilings and repeat for nine floors. None of us would be surprised by the others’ habits. The man on the fifth floor (as he is doing right now) plays his piano on a Sunday, his wife’s parrot is allowed to fly around their apartment, there would be different wallpapers, at least twenty-three beds, a few tin baths, fireplaces, rugs of assorted design–there is a prayer group meets on the sixth floor on a Wednesday, a card game is run from the landlord’s fancy apartment on the first floor, he is paler than bread–except for his nose which is red as claret. I walked home last week and found him carving a pictograph at the front door, it is a tiny goat girl, he was drunk and it’s his building! In practice, despite the different time periods, the stories do overlap, in part as characters are still resident, or spoken of, in late decades, and in part as the presence of some literally haunts the building, most notably Jessie MacRae. It is entirely possible to slip through the decades in between these floors. Travel forward or back in time. There is the voice of a woman. A girl child and an older sister maybe We first meet her - My name is Jessie MacRae. I am the devil’s daughter - rowing from an island to the mainland in a coffin, after disposing of her father’s body. Her father had sold her to Mr Udnam, the owner of the building, and like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a character inspired by Deacon Brodie. Udnam wants Jessie to act as a surrogate mother for him and within a few pages he, his girlfriend and Jessie are engaged in a debauched threesome. Jessie immediately falls pregnant, and gives birth not within 9 months but rather 3 days, to a girl who, like her, has the stubs of horns on her head. I can see that for some the switching between decades and the relatively short space (1/9th of the novel) allocated to each character could be a little frustrating when one gets particularly invested in a particular storyline, but it makes for a very strong narrative drive and the variety and inventiveness of the cast of characters is fascinating. Fagan also brilliant creates the atmosphere of Edinburgh: Bill calls this his Rothschild suit. He is smoking. His spectacles are thin-rimmed. His shoes are worn at the heel and the leather is cracked. One hand rests in his pocket. It is a grey three-piece. A thin black tie; bright eyes; lined face; pointy chin; slim outline. Long fingers and a fedora. He is ashen as the city. Sea haar creeps along the streets until they disappear into its dense fog. Edinburgh is relentless in her gloom when she chooses, a city of endless night. In this mood, the ceaseless grey is enough to numb an optimist. Pea soup! It is hardly an inventive description. Those who describe Edinburgh’s vampiric soul as thus are not his kind. They are no starry angel-headed hipsters! Twin-souled city. All the darker for the light and to find himself back here in secret is thrilling. He just wanted to come back and hide for a few days. A truly memorable read - and yes perhaps this will prove to be the weirdest (in a good way) book of 2021. A strong 4+ stars. Thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for the ARC.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Eric Anderson

    Everyone's experience of a city is different. As an outsider, I've only ever seen Edinburgh through the limited perspective of a tourist who has visited it numerous times for the famous late-Summer festivals. So it was fascinating to read Jenni Fagan's new novel “Luckenbooth” to see this great, historic city through the perspectives of nine very diverse and intriguing characters who inhabit the same tenement building at different points of the past century. They include a spy, a powerful medium, Everyone's experience of a city is different. As an outsider, I've only ever seen Edinburgh through the limited perspective of a tourist who has visited it numerous times for the famous late-Summer festivals. So it was fascinating to read Jenni Fagan's new novel “Luckenbooth” to see this great, historic city through the perspectives of nine very diverse and intriguing characters who inhabit the same tenement building at different points of the past century. They include a spy, a powerful medium, a hermaphrodite, a coal miner, the madam of a brothel and the beat poet William Burroughs. Though they are individually unique, they collectively embody an economically and socially marginalized side to the city not often seen or represented. Also, threaded through their individual tales is a curse placed upon this tenement building by a woman that was taken here to be the surrogate mother for a wealthy couple who want a child. We follow the compelling tales of all these individuals and, as time goes forward, there's an accumulations of ghosts in this steadily decaying building. Time becomes porous in this place: “It is entirely possible to slip through the decades in between these floors.” There's a creepy gothic atmosphere to this novel as well as sharp social commentary testifying for the disenfranchised citizens of Edinburgh. Read my full review of Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan on LonesomeReader

  8. 4 out of 5

    Roma

    No. 10 Luckenbooth Close: nine storeys worth of stories. Each one very different yet each one connected by the curse that afflicts the tenement laid down by the devil's daughter. Almost 100 years of history: of the building, the city, and its' inhabitants. This novel reads like a love/hate letter to the city of Edinburgh and an ode to marginalised who live there. It shows us a different aspect of the city that tourists generally see as quaint and charming. It shows us the nitty-gritty, the seedy No. 10 Luckenbooth Close: nine storeys worth of stories. Each one very different yet each one connected by the curse that afflicts the tenement laid down by the devil's daughter. Almost 100 years of history: of the building, the city, and its' inhabitants. This novel reads like a love/hate letter to the city of Edinburgh and an ode to marginalised who live there. It shows us a different aspect of the city that tourists generally see as quaint and charming. It shows us the nitty-gritty, the seedy underbelly that most people associate with Glasgow rather than Edinburgh. The descriptions are divine, the rendering of the city vivid and atmospheric. Edinburgh becomes one of the main protagonists, not just a setting but a character in its own right. This novel is a collection of existential stories, character studies, and social and political commentary all at once. Jenni Fagan is not afraid to point fingers and to address touchy topics such as: discrimination, race, wealth inequality, failing and inadequate governments. More than once she warns of an imminent pathogen that will one day take humanity down (COVID, anyone?). She warns that if we keep poisoning the world, we will in turn be poisoned. She writes about the people who don't usually have voices: the poor, the debauched, the forgotten, and in their brokenness we see aspects of ourselves and we cannot help but like them. Characters who most people (unfortunately) would turn away from in the street. Here we are confronted with them. They can no longer be ignored. And in the end, we see we are all the same. Luckenbooth is well worth the read as long as you can handle the graphicness. It is a cacophony of vulgarity. The visceral and the intellect mixing together to create this rare simultaneous indulgence of both ideas and senses.

  9. 5 out of 5

    SueLucie

    Jenni Fagan employs an effective structure here. She gives us snapshots of different types of lives led in one Edinburgh tenement block over the 20th century as it slides from seeming respectability down the social scale to seediness and dereliction - lives varying widely in terms of sexuality, social status, vulnerability - forming a commentary on the Edinburgh tourists do not see. Some episodes are shocking, some more sentimental, nearly all the characters affected to some extent by the experi Jenni Fagan employs an effective structure here. She gives us snapshots of different types of lives led in one Edinburgh tenement block over the 20th century as it slides from seeming respectability down the social scale to seediness and dereliction - lives varying widely in terms of sexuality, social status, vulnerability - forming a commentary on the Edinburgh tourists do not see. Some episodes are shocking, some more sentimental, nearly all the characters affected to some extent by the experience of Jessie Macrae early in the century. The blend of gritty realism and supernatural elements works well. I was enthralled by the atmosphere she conjures of an Edinburgh romanticising its history as it touts for tourists but with a seamy underbelly hiding secrets in dark, dank alleys. Superbly well written. One example that I think gives a flavour of the whole: An Edinburgh summer is usually a skittery, lying, drunk, untrustworthy foe - her legs are always spread - elsewhere. She is elusive and unreliable, a total fucking pisshead. The next day (for months) she pretends she’s still far too poorly to make an appearance. Locals loathe the erratic and often absent entirely Edinburgh summer. Talk about her endlessly - will she, or won’t she? Look out windows expectantly each morning. They buy flower seeds just in case. Resentfully, they keep out all items of their winter wardrobe. She loves all the anticipation, doesn’t she? They hate her. It’s an entire country in an abusive relationship with the weather. She drives many to despair, or drink. However, if she does arrive! All is forgiven. The choice of cover art is just perfect. With thanks to Random House UK, William Heinemann via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    This is dire. Pretentious, woke nonsense, full of anachronisms, swearing and sex. Anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-misogyny, gender politics, pandemics - thump it all at the poor reader as if s/he's too thick to comprehend subtlety. It's like reading Twitter only without the humorous memes. There's the occasional glimmer of good writing, but it's buried under the weight of worthy messages and misandry. Not for me - I'm bored rigid with sweary, sex-obsessed, juvenile ranting and can't wait for cont This is dire. Pretentious, woke nonsense, full of anachronisms, swearing and sex. Anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-misogyny, gender politics, pandemics - thump it all at the poor reader as if s/he's too thick to comprehend subtlety. It's like reading Twitter only without the humorous memes. There's the occasional glimmer of good writing, but it's buried under the weight of worthy messages and misandry. Not for me - I'm bored rigid with sweary, sex-obsessed, juvenile ranting and can't wait for contemporary authors to get over their desperately sad compulsion to prove that they're the most woke of all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ophelia Sings

    I am genuinely shocked that this was a 'like' as opposed to 'love' from me. The ingredients are All The Things I Love in a nutshell: A dark, gothic tale twisting through the decades, set in my favourite city on the planet. And yet. Jenni Fagan draws Edinburgh immaculately, and that's what saved Luckenbooth for me. She excises its dark heart and holds it up for all to see; the stinking closes, towering tenements and the century of intrigue that settles over it all, shroud-like. The writing is bea I am genuinely shocked that this was a 'like' as opposed to 'love' from me. The ingredients are All The Things I Love in a nutshell: A dark, gothic tale twisting through the decades, set in my favourite city on the planet. And yet. Jenni Fagan draws Edinburgh immaculately, and that's what saved Luckenbooth for me. She excises its dark heart and holds it up for all to see; the stinking closes, towering tenements and the century of intrigue that settles over it all, shroud-like. The writing is beautiful, hallucinogenic, and as dizzying as the teeming cast of characters, all held together by the twin protagonists of 'devil's daughter' Jessie MacRae and 10 Luckenbooth Close itself. To say it's atmospheric is an understatement. The trouble is (or was, for me), it's all a bit too much. Sensory overload in book form. And not much else to underpin it. It all feels a bit self conscious. I'm torn on this one, genuinely. It's beautiful and twisted, sick and sexy, and so, so dark. But it's also a sprawling jumble (much like Edinburgh itself), with no real focus and we're never quite sure whether it's metaphor or not. Which is maybe the point, and I'm missing it entirely. It's certainly challenging and like nothing I've read in a long while, which is another reason I can't hate it. I've a feeling that just maybe I'll come back to this one in the future and fall in love with it - it definitely feels like a tale best read twice, or more. My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve

    Reading this book has been a JOURNEY. I really didn't like the first part, it was too dark and supernatural and I couldn't get my head around it. I actually think the book was making me anxious when I first started reading it, I definitely wasn't engaging with it properly. But it really started to grip me in part 2 (of 3). It's witchy and queer and sexy. It is so nice to read something specific to Edinburgh. Very vivid. Reading this book has been a JOURNEY. I really didn't like the first part, it was too dark and supernatural and I couldn't get my head around it. I actually think the book was making me anxious when I first started reading it, I definitely wasn't engaging with it properly. But it really started to grip me in part 2 (of 3). It's witchy and queer and sexy. It is so nice to read something specific to Edinburgh. Very vivid.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Faichney

    It's 21st January 2021 and I've already found my book of the year. Nothing can possibly top it. Jenni Fagan's "Luckenbooth'' is highly original and intoxicating. I interspersed reading with listening to the audiobook and the cast of narrators is superb. Cathleen McCarron, David McCallion, Fiona McNeill and Jeff Harding have done a stellar job of bringing Fagan's complex and multifaceted characters to life.  Jenni Fagan's prose is poetic, employing a mixture of Scots and English as befits characte It's 21st January 2021 and I've already found my book of the year. Nothing can possibly top it. Jenni Fagan's "Luckenbooth'' is highly original and intoxicating. I interspersed reading with listening to the audiobook and the cast of narrators is superb. Cathleen McCarron, David McCallion, Fiona McNeill and Jeff Harding have done a stellar job of bringing Fagan's complex and multifaceted characters to life.  Jenni Fagan's prose is poetic, employing a mixture of Scots and English as befits character and situation. In one particularly harrowing scene, there is a passage which likens blood to a crimson gown. I will leave you to discover its specific beauty for yourself. It blew me away. The entirety of the novel is atmospheric. There is violence (sometimes vomit-inducingly graphic) and horror on a par with Stephen King's "The Shining". Historical anecdotes, and references to real people, are scattered throughout - for example Half Hangit Maggie Dickson, who woke up in her coffin! These breadcrumbs sent me down many a Google rabbit hole in the course of reading. Fagan also sprinkles extensive musical references throughout and I shall be checking all of those out too. An accompanying Spotify playlist would be smashing, hint hint!  The book explores the lives of residents of 10 Luckenbooth Close over a 90 year period. Fagan hits every cultural reference point across each decade, demonstrating extensive knowledge and painstaking research. There are three parts to the novel, split into chapters focussing on a specific character, era and floor of the building.  The story opens and closes with Jessie MacRae - the Devil's daughter. At one point, Jessie lists over 30 kickass women throughout history who I absolutely intend to learn more about. She harbours righteous rage towards patriarchal constructs, observing "Men decide what goes in women’s bodies and what is taken out. How and when and in which way things go in and out of them." Personally, I shall henceforth be taking Jessie's Ma's advice of only loving men who "read books and understand them properly."  Next up is the bold Flora who we meet in a pub, thinking about Baska Murmanska - a polar bear who marched the streets of Edinburgh alongside hundreds of Polish soldiers in 1919. This was the first of many Googlings on my part and yes, it really did happen. Flora emits sass and swagger, with a soft centre. She makes some beautiful observations, for example she talks about the light that emanates from human souls and the joy of two souls finding the light between them. There's also a conversation where love is referred to as a "poultice" drawing out madness.  Levi is the third resident we meet - a Louisianian working in Edinburgh's Bone Library (where Fagan herself was once poet-in-residence). Levi makes interesting commentary about the link between horses being tamed and our opportunities for love expanding, as we were able to travel farther afield. Suffice it to say, horses are a bit of a theme for Levi.  In the opening of Part Two, we meet Ivy Proudfoot - a wannabe spy who speaks of women's essential (and often overlooked) contribution to the war effort. She speaks of society's expectations of girls and women and the gentrification of Edinburgh.  Residing in Flat 5F5, spiritualist medium Agnes Campbell is perhaps my favourite of them all. She's disillusioned with her man, Archie, but there's no denying the love between them. I particularly enjoyed their early interaction and dialogue. Through Agnes we meet a swearing parrot and Dora Noyce, a real-life brothel keeper. We also learn a little about Helen Duncan who was the last person imprisoned under the Witchcraft Act. I don't want to give away any spoilers but there is some serious ouija board action that takes place in Agnes' hoose!  American writer and visual artist William S. Burroughs also features in Part 2. He describes language as a "virus" and some of his own is beautifully arresting. There is a quote "Of all the artforms, writing is the most intimate and strange." I can't find a source attributing this to Burroughs so can only assume this wisdom comes from the Fagan stable. I would very much like it on a fridge magnet. We see Burroughs talking with his lover about British colonialism," word travellers" and the weather having a temper. The complex concepts introduced here could fill a book all their own.  Part 3 opens in 1977 with Queen Bee and the Original Founders in a strip club. I found their mask-wearing frankly terrifying. Also, brace yourself for an incident involving Davey and Ali's Da. Its high on the gross and lasting trauma scale. In this story arc, I enjoyed the inclusion of references to Chinese culture and cuisine. The use of pinyin added authenticity and was a nice touch. I remain utterly fascinated by the concept of strippers at funerals!  Ivor joins us at the end of the 80s and subverts our expectations about domestic abuse. His story speaks to the devastating impact of Thatcherism via the AIDS crisis, phobias and deathwatch beetles. His wee niece, Esme, plays with My Little Ponies but is wise beyond her years, with the clarity of vision associated with youth and innocence. For Esme, the veil between worlds is thinner.  The final Luckenbooth resident we meet is Dot. It's Hogmanay on the eve of the new millennium and Edinburgh is heaving. Dot is a shrewd cookie, noting that "people's niceness is so exploitable." She wanders the halls marvelling at the detritus of residents past. Her observations about the Arts are spot on, particularly with regard to the notion of appropriating other people's stories (especially the less privileged). Dot remarks that "Middle-class kids are raised to own a space." In my experience, this pervades educational establishments everywhere. I hope the articulation of this truth causes some readers discomfort and engenders a degree of self-awareness. Dot has equal disdain for humanity's blatant disregard for our planet. I loved her nod to kintsugi and wabi-sabi, in addition to the ekphrasis of Lilith's painting in the hall and Dot's renderings of her.  Laced through many residents' stories like a cancer is Mr Udnam - the man who owns the close. He is said to have "the serenity of a man without conscience" and that's pretty much him in a nutshell. Like all vile men, I do not wish to discuss him further.  Fagan's greatest achievement (with what must surely be her magnum opus) is giving this born and bred Glaswegian reader a grudging, and awed, appreciation of our Scottish capital. There is a great universality to her writing, with representations of a diverse cast of characters. Her work feels inclusive of all, with particular fondness for those on the fringes of society. From Fagan's humble beginnings, for her to have conceived this work of sheer brilliance then published it during the second national lockdown phase of a global pandemic is off the scale in terms of achievements. "Luckenbooth" is a stunning feat of imagination and showcases Fagan's creativity beautifully. If there was a superhero whose special power was writing, her name would be Jenni Fagan. 

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andy Weston

    The devil's daughter rows to Edinburgh in a coffin, to work as maid for the Minister of Culture, and secretly to bear him and his barren wife a child. Sounds great, bit wait a minute.... this summary is a con. This 'novel' is made up of short stories, very loosely connected to each other in that they take place in the same nine floored tenement building in Edinburgh. The story used to promote the book is a decent one, but hardly horror. I'd give it a new genre, populist fiction, a book that tick The devil's daughter rows to Edinburgh in a coffin, to work as maid for the Minister of Culture, and secretly to bear him and his barren wife a child. Sounds great, bit wait a minute.... this summary is a con. This 'novel' is made up of short stories, very loosely connected to each other in that they take place in the same nine floored tenement building in Edinburgh. The story used to promote the book is a decent one, but hardly horror. I'd give it a new genre, populist fiction, a book that ticks all the politically correct boxes, and tries its best not to offend anyone. I prefer my horror, and this sort of fiction, a lot darker. They need dislikeable, and often evil characters who may exhibit traits we deplore, the may be racist, or homphobic for example. I'm left with the overriding feeling that I've been conned.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steph Sutherland

    My name is Jessie McRae and I am the devil's daughter. The devil's daughter rows to Edinburgh in a coffin and bears an unusual child to a man leading a double life, the repercussions of which echo through time and the very fabric of 10 Luckenbooth Close. Across the nine decades that follow we meet the eclectic residents of the fated tenement, from a miner to a medium to a spy, all tangled in the intricacies of their own lives set against the backdrop of growing unease, both societal and otherworl My name is Jessie McRae and I am the devil's daughter. The devil's daughter rows to Edinburgh in a coffin and bears an unusual child to a man leading a double life, the repercussions of which echo through time and the very fabric of 10 Luckenbooth Close. Across the nine decades that follow we meet the eclectic residents of the fated tenement, from a miner to a medium to a spy, all tangled in the intricacies of their own lives set against the backdrop of growing unease, both societal and otherworldly. Simultaneously a captivating slice of life, an unsettling supernatural tale, a poignant exploration of gentrification and a lesson in social history Luckenbooth is, most importantly for me, a gothic love-letter to Edinburgh. As Luckenbooth moves through time from a palatial status address to a crumbling slum, it is also a warning of just how easily public policy can leave the most vulnerable amongst us behind. Beautifully unsettlingly written, Luckenbooth has stayed with me and slowly revealed just how clever it actually is ever since I read the last word. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced review copy

  16. 4 out of 5

    JK

    The devil’s daughter arrives in Edinburgh in a coffin in the early 1900s, and finds her way to No. 10 Luckenbooth Close. A skyscraper-like tenement building hosting the lives of many families, it’s a monolithic enclosure of humanity, keeper of secrets, and houser of sin. Fagan shows us life in this building from the devil’s daughter’s arrival, all the way up until the nineties - almost a century of people passing through this structure, living, dying, and experiencing Edinburgh in their relevant The devil’s daughter arrives in Edinburgh in a coffin in the early 1900s, and finds her way to No. 10 Luckenbooth Close. A skyscraper-like tenement building hosting the lives of many families, it’s a monolithic enclosure of humanity, keeper of secrets, and houser of sin. Fagan shows us life in this building from the devil’s daughter’s arrival, all the way up until the nineties - almost a century of people passing through this structure, living, dying, and experiencing Edinburgh in their relevant decades. There’s a strange atmosphere of dread permeating throughout the pages, an irrevocable dark tension which seems to still be living with me since I finished the book yesterday. All of these lives have a doomed quality attached to them, and the building itself is the harbinger of destruction, cursing them all in its fury. The novel is split into sections, dealing with inhabitants in chronological order. Each decade tells a tale of a different person, and these read like vignettes or short stories. It became difficult to leave certain characters behind when moving through time, as I fell in love with some and loved to dislike others. Most fates were left unwritten, which made me feel as though I were living in the tenement with only partial knowledge of the stories of my neighbours. It’s a frustrating aspect, but one which is masterfully true to life. Our tenants are those who wouldn’t normally be given a voice. The oppressed, the misunderstood, the ill, the impoverished, the disabled. They are all here, and their stories are beautiful in their telling. We see people embracing who they are whilst attempting to struggle through each day. We see brutality, love, confusion, awe. The library of characters within this building is striking; it’s impossible not to feel passion and intrigue for their experiences and situations, to feel close to them, and, ultimately, to miss them as Fagan hurtles you through time, away. A story for the marginalised, for those who have seen Edinburgh’s underbelly, for those who know what it is to be cursed. Fagan gives us a visceral and unforgettable journey through nine decades, and up the nine floors of Luckenbooth.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate Southey

    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel despite there being a slight fantastical element to the story and my usually eschewing fantasy. This is in part due to Fagan’s incredible skills as a writer and also the fact that with the exception of Jessie MacRae; the devils daughter, the rest of the novel is so grittily real that you don’t feel as if the devil is an abstract creation any more and that his daughter is living in a tenement block in Edinburgh seems perfectly normal. The novel is presented in thre I thoroughly enjoyed this novel despite there being a slight fantastical element to the story and my usually eschewing fantasy. This is in part due to Fagan’s incredible skills as a writer and also the fact that with the exception of Jessie MacRae; the devils daughter, the rest of the novel is so grittily real that you don’t feel as if the devil is an abstract creation any more and that his daughter is living in a tenement block in Edinburgh seems perfectly normal. The novel is presented in three parts and within those parts the various chapters are allocated to a different character and decade of the 20th century beginning with Jessie’s appearance in 1910 and ending on the eve of the Millennium in 1999 with Dot. Each part has 3 voices who have 3 chapters each within their part. Fagan ends each person’s chapter leaving you wanting more and until you get into the swing of the novel there is even fear that you may never see that character again and never know what happened to them. I felt one character was weak and didn’t enjoy his segments but the rest were gripping. It was fascinating to see the building change over the years and to hear tenants whose story we had shared be referred to by other tenants. There was a strong connective thread running through all three parts thanks to Jessie MacRae and her lover Elise having an effect on many of the characters lives whether they know it or not. This book wasn’t marketed (or if it was I managed to miss it!) as an LGBT+ novel but several of the characters are in same sex partnerships which I was really impressed with. Their sexuality wasn’t a plot device or their defining characteristic, they were just strongly and unashamedly gay. There is a fair bit of sexual content in the novel which is a fine line for authors to get right and not make their reader cringe or just plain roll their eyes. Fagan does it beautifully and some passages had me holding my breath while I read. The book has been marketed as a strong Scottish voice, something lacking in British fiction and I agree entirely. Fagan’s ability to spell words so that when read phonetically your inner voice finds itself with a fluent Edinburgh accent! I’ve seen other novelists use different spellings for many of the words used and I’ve not heard a Scotts accent in my head, in Luckenbooth I did and I loved it it reminded me of Frank McCourt’s ability to write a Limerick accent so perfectly. I can’t wait to now read Fagan’s other book and will be ready and waiting for her next novel. An easy 5 stars from me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brian Carlin

    I so wanted to like this book. The writer is Scottish. She’s a poet. Irvine Welsh on the blurb telling me it’s the Edinburgh equivalent of Alasdair Gray’s Lanark. Only, it’s not. The writing is pretty lame fair. There are few distinctive voices in the characters who have the unfortunate habit of using 21st century slang one hundred years too early. Levi’s first letter home sounds like a collection of every cliché the author could think of about Louisiana. Interspersed with details the author has I so wanted to like this book. The writer is Scottish. She’s a poet. Irvine Welsh on the blurb telling me it’s the Edinburgh equivalent of Alasdair Gray’s Lanark. Only, it’s not. The writing is pretty lame fair. There are few distinctive voices in the characters who have the unfortunate habit of using 21st century slang one hundred years too early. Levi’s first letter home sounds like a collection of every cliché the author could think of about Louisiana. Interspersed with details the author has researched and thrown in for “authenticity” rather clunkily. For a poet, there is not much evidence that she cares for language, indeed there are no memorable lines at all, and I’m over halfway through this book. This is the first time in a long while I’ve came across a book I have began to dislike, but having invested time in it I will finish it. Meanwhile, if you want to read a book about the life of a tenement building and all the characters living in it may I suggest Georges Pereç’s Life, A User’s Manual.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Bow

    Was so ready for this to be a future favourite book, and the first few chapters had me spellbound... but it didn’t follow through for me. Loved the witchiness and the exploration of gendered power dynamics at the centre of the key story. Loved the descriptions, the occult, the foregrounding of women’s invisiblised accomplishments and relationships across the decades. Unfortunately these strong central threads didn’t weave through coherently enough for me. I found myself less interested in some ch Was so ready for this to be a future favourite book, and the first few chapters had me spellbound... but it didn’t follow through for me. Loved the witchiness and the exploration of gendered power dynamics at the centre of the key story. Loved the descriptions, the occult, the foregrounding of women’s invisiblised accomplishments and relationships across the decades. Unfortunately these strong central threads didn’t weave through coherently enough for me. I found myself less interested in some characters narratives than others, and as a result was struggling to muster up the energy to give my attention to a new viewpoint every now and again. This was especially difficult as it became clear only some of the narratives wove into others. As a result I was this left wondering if I needed to hold on to details about characters or just go where the story was taking me. I do struggle a bit with these kind of episodic books from multiple character’s viewpoints so some of the things I disliked might be ‘just me’.

  20. 4 out of 5

    CC

    I was solidly absorbed by half of this book and solidly bewildered by the other. Like many other reviewers I felt throughly confused once Burroughs entered the mix, and though it was mildly interresting I really didn't get on with the imitation of his train of thought musings. I will say that Luckenbooth is unlike anything else I'll probably read this year, and some of the commentary was very apt right through the ages. Though it wasn't all my cup of tea I'm still happy with my ARC as the obviou I was solidly absorbed by half of this book and solidly bewildered by the other. Like many other reviewers I felt throughly confused once Burroughs entered the mix, and though it was mildly interresting I really didn't get on with the imitation of his train of thought musings. I will say that Luckenbooth is unlike anything else I'll probably read this year, and some of the commentary was very apt right through the ages. Though it wasn't all my cup of tea I'm still happy with my ARC as the obvious love for Scotland was woven though every single page.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Geri

    Jenni Fagan knows Edinburgh well and her writing evokes the city as a dark and dangerous place where residents are being priced out of their homes to create a tourist trap for the wealthy. Her novel focuses on the life and lives of no 10 Luckenbooth Place over the course of the 20th century. This is a 9 storey building in Edinburgh's Old Town and the reader is met with 9 stories of its residents told in a triptych form. Most of these stories are rather dark with the flats of Luckenbooth seeing f Jenni Fagan knows Edinburgh well and her writing evokes the city as a dark and dangerous place where residents are being priced out of their homes to create a tourist trap for the wealthy. Her novel focuses on the life and lives of no 10 Luckenbooth Place over the course of the 20th century. This is a 9 storey building in Edinburgh's Old Town and the reader is met with 9 stories of its residents told in a triptych form. Most of these stories are rather dark with the flats of Luckenbooth seeing far more cruelty and death than any building should. The stories mostly link and connect over the century with frequent spirit sights and sounds. I enjoyed parts of this book and thought the characters and their stories well crafted with highly visual descriptions of the residents, the building and its wider environment. The tantalising views of the sparkling River Forth and the dreich Scottish weather are particularly evocative.. I really was not clear why Fagan decided to make the writer William Burroughs one of the characters in her book as the rest of the characters, as far as I am aware, are entirely fictional. The story of Burroughs and his lover was not only, for me, the weakest part of the book, but its labouring ponderings on the meaning of language, detracted from the rest of the novel. Overall I certainly appreciated the writing in this book but I found it rather laborious to read. My thanks to the publisher for a complimentary ARC of this book via Net Galley in return for an unbiased review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    With thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for an advance review copy. Luckenbooth is a fascinating oddball of a novel. It is ambitious in structure and sweeping in scope, but ultimately I found it to be rather less than the sum of its parts. The title refers to a tenement building in Edinburgh, 10 Luckenbooth Close, which is one of the unifying threads in this tale. The other is the city of Edinburgh itself - not the pretty tourist town, but the seedy, steamy and sometimes devilish underbelly ju With thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for an advance review copy. Luckenbooth is a fascinating oddball of a novel. It is ambitious in structure and sweeping in scope, but ultimately I found it to be rather less than the sum of its parts. The title refers to a tenement building in Edinburgh, 10 Luckenbooth Close, which is one of the unifying threads in this tale. The other is the city of Edinburgh itself - not the pretty tourist town, but the seedy, steamy and sometimes devilish underbelly just beneath the surface, seen through a series of inhabitants of 10 Luckenbooth Close from 1910 to 1997. A luckenbooth is also a romantic piece of jewellery, described here as a heart held in two hands, which takes on an increasingly ironic significance as time passes. The novel is highly structured, with three parts each containing nine chapters set in three apartments, and encompassing three decades of the 20th century, rising from the first floor in 1910 to the ninth in 1997. Other than a way of constructing the novel though, this structure does not add anything much to our understanding. The inhabitants and characters we meet range from a secretly corrupt and abusive politician and philanthropist, through a light-phobic miner, a hermaphrodite, a medium and her husband, a bone librarian from the American South, a quartet of gangsters, a disabled squatter, a would-be female WWII spy, William Burroughs (yes, that one), and the devil's daughter. Queer relationships abound and are treated as part of the rich range of human experience. Narrative voices look into the future and speak from beyond the grave, and the events of the first chapter cast ripples far into the future of the building and its tenants. The problem I had with the novel was that I became less and less engaged as I read on. With so many stories it is perhaps natural that some will interest the individual reader more than others; however, each one was broken up into three parts, with others interspersed between, breaking the narrative flow unnecessarily. I also found the language and use of punctuation distracting. It is mostly written in plain English but randomly breaks out into the Edinburgh dialect without much rhyme or reason that I could see. And the author uses too many exclamation marks, and puts in dashes very randomly too, breaking up sentences in a way that is often not called for and which doesn't do anything to help narrative flow or immersion in the story. The three devices are not consistently associated with, say, direct speech, or stream of consciousness, or anything I could see as a reason. And so it just felt affected, and kept interrupting the narrative flow. This is undoubtedly a clever and ambitious novel, but by the final third I just wanted it to be over and done with. I suspect it's going to be one that the critics love and that will leave readers quite divided.

  23. 4 out of 5

    David Kenvyn

    This is very definitely a ghost story in the tradition of “The Turn of the Screw”. The story begins with the arrival of Jessie MacRae at a tenement building in Edinburgh at the beginning of the reign of George V (1910 to be exact). She is the devil’s daughter and has horns growing visibly from her head. Her father, who she has just murdered, had sold her to the owner, Mr. Udnam, to be a surrogate mother for himself and his fiancée, Elise. What follows is a ghost story told by the various inhabit This is very definitely a ghost story in the tradition of “The Turn of the Screw”. The story begins with the arrival of Jessie MacRae at a tenement building in Edinburgh at the beginning of the reign of George V (1910 to be exact). She is the devil’s daughter and has horns growing visibly from her head. Her father, who she has just murdered, had sold her to the owner, Mr. Udnam, to be a surrogate mother for himself and his fiancée, Elise. What follows is a ghost story told by the various inhabitants of 10 Luckenbooth Close, including a certain William Burroughs. There are plenty of murders, including gangland killings, and people fall in love, people quarrel, people seek answers via a medium, and the house is haunted. The story is told in three parts, beginning with Jessie MacRae, whose actions cause the haunting, and then Flora and Levi. The second part of the story is told by Ivy Proudfoot, Agnes Campbell, and William Burroughs. By now the house is haunted, and Mr Udnam is about to die. The third part of the story is told by Queen Bee, Ivor and Dot. The consequences of Mr Udnam’s villainy have now been inflicted on the residents and the tenement building itself. They are terrible. Jenni Fagan has knitted together the tale of a haunting with considerable skill. We meet the victims and we are told how th3e crime was committed. Then we see how revenge is inflicted and in the last part of the story we see the consequences of that revenge. Much as Mr Udnam might try there is no escape from the consequences of his actions, and the terrible crime committed at the start of the book. What will hold you enthralled is the way that it all hangs together. I doubt that you will be able to predict the damage that is done, nor who the ultimate victims are. Edinburgh, or rather the Old Town clustered around the Castle, is also an important character in this book, as is the tenement building itself. It is a suitable place for a haunting. It is the real town of Burke and Hare and of Deacon Brodie. It is the fictional home of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It is where the World’s end murders took place. It is a city that has a reputation for being scary. Luckenbooth will add to that reputation. I doubt that you will be disappointed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Equizi

    started off well then became unbearably preachy and dull. i agreed with all of fagin's views but there's only so many times you can be told 'feminism is good' 'poverty is bad' etc. (and i mean 'etc.'- she nods at every popular social issue you can imagine without properly addressing any of them, with neither style nor subtlety but plenty of smug) without rolling your eyes. most of the characters were uninspiring or irrelevant (william burroughs, why are you there?) and tenuously connected or not started off well then became unbearably preachy and dull. i agreed with all of fagin's views but there's only so many times you can be told 'feminism is good' 'poverty is bad' etc. (and i mean 'etc.'- she nods at every popular social issue you can imagine without properly addressing any of them, with neither style nor subtlety but plenty of smug) without rolling your eyes. most of the characters were uninspiring or irrelevant (william burroughs, why are you there?) and tenuously connected or not at all connected, which i felt they should be since the book's premise is 'people living in flats in the same building united by a curse'. the curse itself was vague and made little sense in context- its originator, though wronged, wouldn't take vengeance on innocents, so i don't understand its logic. the novel, as a whole, has a great concept let down by poor writing. it's always a warning sign when a writer talks about people 'all being made of stardust' like it's something deeply profound and original. this review is probably a bit harsh but i was disappointed to the point of annoyance. luckenbooth is so lacklustre- don't bother with it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty Connell-Skinner

    Beautiful, albeit a few irritating anachronisms spoiling the decades’ stories / storeys conceits.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lis

    Every ghost story is a love story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Soozee

    I'm sorry, this book did not engage my attention on any level. It did not seem to match the blurb of what to expect. I didn't like the style - which was not particularly coherent. I didn't like the subject matter. I didn't like the characters and felt no affinity with them, nor did I care even slightly what became of them. There were a few points where the descriptive element was very good, but it was not enough to make me want to read more. I was just forcing myself along, and relieved to reach I'm sorry, this book did not engage my attention on any level. It did not seem to match the blurb of what to expect. I didn't like the style - which was not particularly coherent. I didn't like the subject matter. I didn't like the characters and felt no affinity with them, nor did I care even slightly what became of them. There were a few points where the descriptive element was very good, but it was not enough to make me want to read more. I was just forcing myself along, and relieved to reach the end. Not for me. Thank you to NetGalley, Random House UK, Cornerstone and William Heinemann for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    This was sometimes wonderful but often not. Fagan conjures a fantastic sense of place as she writes, with love and detail, about Edinburgh. Some of the characters are wonderfully drawn and others, really, not so much. On balance, I did enjoy this book but it was nearly so much better.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Moi

    Some parts of this novel worked better for me than others and I found the 'issues' that featured in the more contemporary characters stories to be delineated with a too-heavy hand. The more poetic and fantastical imaginings worked better than the didactic Some parts of this novel worked better for me than others and I found the 'issues' that featured in the more contemporary characters stories to be delineated with a too-heavy hand. The more poetic and fantastical imaginings worked better than the didactic

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark McDade

    Tells the tale of the Devil's daughter living in a place n Edinburgh, putting a curse on it and then tells about the people living in the close for years to come. It started off brilliantly then just started to get boring. After the initial devil's daughter section, it felt like little short stories about the goings on in the close with a very tenuous link back to her. Wasn't weird enough for me if Corrie was set in a close in Edinburgh, this is what I'd be like. Tells the tale of the Devil's daughter living in a place n Edinburgh, putting a curse on it and then tells about the people living in the close for years to come. It started off brilliantly then just started to get boring. After the initial devil's daughter section, it felt like little short stories about the goings on in the close with a very tenuous link back to her. Wasn't weird enough for me if Corrie was set in a close in Edinburgh, this is what I'd be like.

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