The Spiral by Iain Ryan is set around the University of Queensland, Fortitude Valley and the surrounding area. It opens with Erma, who is called for a disciplinary meeting. A lot of names are thrown around but the reader is left in the dark as to what it is all about.
Erma is sure her friend and colleague Jenny is behind the complaint. Out of the blue Jenny shoots Erma and then fatally shoots herself leaving Erma with a massive, “why”.
Erma’s life then spirals into dark dreams and relentlessly pursuing Jenny’s last movements.
Iain Ryan explores the concept of the choose your own adventure and gameplay novels as Erma is doing research to write a book on the history of these books. I remember my sons reading these although they weren’t quite as complex as the books referred to here.
You, the reader, were in charge of the plot. Your decisions had consequences and you never knew ahead what they might be. Ryan draws parallels between these books and Erma’s life decisions, actions and consequences.
The plot is complex, running multiple plot lines, and like a jigsaw puzzle, you have to piece together snippets of information each seemingly inconsequential and unrelated until you put them together and reveal the final picture.
When I started the book I was totally confused and I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. Well, my fears were soon allayed! The story was tense and gripping and I read the book in one day, on the edge of my seat through the second half as Ryan smashes out the twists one after the other.
In this genre-mixing novel, a fantasy thread is introduced with Sero the Barbarian searching to regain his lost memory. This is told through Erma’s nightmares and often linked to Erma’s actual life events and hidden fears.
Erma’s character was hard to connect with. Her penchant for violence brought about by teenage trauma and exacerbated by a case of PSTD seemed more akin to a gangland member than a University supervisor. However, even though she wasn’t totally likeable I still felt I wanted her to come through each situation and hopefully heal herself mentally.
I love noir fiction and I love fantasy so I enjoyed both genres within the book. I think the mixing of genres could have been a risky move but worked well for this reader.
The Spiral will appeal to readers who like dark and gritty Noir Fiction.
ISBN: 9781760686178 / Publisher: Echo Publishing
A selection of our Beauty and Lace club members are reading The Spiral by Iain Ryan. You can read their reviews in the comments section below, or add your own.