This book is a beautifully crafted psychedelic road trip written by debut novelist Seraphina Madsen, published by the independent UK Publishing company DoDo Ink .
Dodge and Burn crosses many genres and is reminiscent of the crazy heights of the late great Hunter S Thompson’s ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, mixed with the strong female sass of a Sigourney Weaver from ‘Aliens’ and the dark fairy tale storytelling found in the great Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’.
The story at its core is a novel about missing sister heiress’ Eugenie and Camille Lund who we are led to believe were kidnapped by the villainous Dr. Vargas who for me was one of the stand out characters in this novel. The back story (told in diary form) is full of many misleading coincidences which result in their mother being killed by killer bees in Mexico. Coincidence or not? Either way they are placed under the care of Dr. Vargas, if you can call torture and conditioning care?
The sisters immerse themselves in a supernatural spiritual world full of omens, rituals, potions, mothmen, cabins in the woods, drug addled raves and more suspicious and shifty looking characters than you would find at your nearest A&E on a Friday night!
The novel takes the shape of diary extracts sandwiched between an opening and closing statement that adds to the books psychedelic vibe as we flit from Eugenie’s childhood to misspent youth to marriage and then to the wonderfully executed finale. Dodge and Burn is masterly written and Seraphina shows a maturity often associated with seasoned novelists.
The only issue I had with the novel was that the ending seemed a little rushed (like a strict word count enforced) as the characters who were skilfully crafted, developed and whom I cared for; seemed to run out of pages towards the stories climax meaning I had a lot of questions that were left unanswered (Dr. Vegas’ conclusion being my main irritant). Having said this the twist and final chapter we skilfully woven together to leave us wondering where our wonderful Eugenie and Benoit will turn up next.
Seraphina exquisitely floats between the lines of surrealism and truth whilst whisking us away on a psychedelic road trip to Eugenie’s deepest fears & anxieties.
Dodge and Burn was published by Dodo Ink on 28 July 2016.
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Review by Ross Jeffery