Had this from NetGalley aaaages ago, and finally got round to reading it now. It’s something very much in the vein of 1984, with some aspects clearly riffing on that, and it gives me really major déjà vu about something I’ve read before (but which I suspect was published since). It’s one of McDonald’s earliest novels, published in the year I was born, and yet I don’t think it’s gone out of date as speculative fiction so often can.
In a way, I found it predictable: once you know the roles of certain characters and how they fit into society, you can see how it’s going to end. That doesn’t diminish the fun of the ride, though: this is a quicksilver, frenetic book, a strange new world. I love the concepts here, filched from mythology and jumbled back up to make something new: Lares and Penates, household gods, mixed in with stuff straight out of 1984.
While I didn’t like this as much as I liked The Broken Land, and the writing style isn’t always entirely for me (too disconnected, jumbled, like an abstract painting), I think it’s worth a look, particularly if you enjoy dystopian stories. The last chapter or so is all a bit of a rush; a lot suddenly happens in a few words, and I could’ve enjoyed seeing it unfold more completely, but I like what’s sketched in for us as the result of the climax of the story.