The Book of Luce by L. R. Fredericks
Today I’m hosting the Book of Luce blog tour here on my blog, so here’s my review, and check below for the other dates on the tour!
The Book of Luce is a mysterious novel, filled with questions and uncertainties, as the identity of a godlike rock star and artist is unfurled by someone closely tied into their story. The narrator and metafictional author is known only by the pseudonym Chimera Obscura, and is attempting to tell the truth of Luce, a messianic figure who did legendary secret gigs as part of Luce and the Photons. Luce is genderless, maybe beyond human, a wanderer. Uncovering the secrets surrounding Luce seems to draw anyone into a dangerous game of dark agents and conspiracies. Regardless, this is the book to try and explain Luce to the world.
Fredericks has combined an intricate web of ingredients—rock music, art, mythology, religion, philosophy, LSD, demonology—to create an unusual and strangely intriguing novel, a kind of literary mystery that somehow can be reminiscent of House of Leaves, David Bowie, and Stranger Things amongst other things. The meta-book structure works well to frame the narrator’s quest and to leave many things unexplained, with a notably elusive narrator withholding information despite the claim to be uncovering the truth. It is long, but moves between so many episodes that it doesn’t really drag, and is broken up with short snippets from the narrator in the present day writing the book about Luce, giving further tiny clues as to where the Luce narrative is going.
The story starts in 1967 and there is plenty of Sixties and early Seventies culture infused into the novel, with plenty of acid taking, looking for hallucinogenic meaning, and conspiracy, but really the Sixties rock star element is only one part of this epic novel. It moves around the globe and through different art forms, identities, and philosophies as the narrator tracks different characters, under various names and personas. The mystery at the heart of the novel—who is Luce really—is also its meaning, and readers can take as many interpretations of this question as is said the various characters do. The overall effect is a kind of counterculture metafictional journey with a dangerous, almost thriller-like atmosphere at times, and a fourth-wall-breaking literary puzzle feel at others.
The Book of Luce is a clever and impressive novel, a drug-infused meta story that never wants to reveal too much or make definitive judgements or even descriptions. This style and story will not appeal to everyone (particularly the ambiguity of much of the book may annoy some), but certainly anyone who likes metafictional puzzles or acid trip conspiracy mixed with philosophy will find something interesting about the novel, which questions the need for definites whilst building up a mythology of its own.