Van has finished reading… The Book Of Luce by LR Fredericks

9 Aug


Undoubtedly there’s a shorter way to tell this story but it wouldn’t be half as entertaining to read. L R Fredericks’ The Book of Luce is… is… interesting. Lest that sounds like I’m damning with faint praise allow me, at least a little, to elucidate. The 60’s, drugs, music, ‘characters’: the things you would expect to find in a book around this era are all there. It’s borderline caricature in places but the thing that allows it to be so, the thing that keeps the reader on side is the narrator – indeed the author of The Book Of Luce (a nice touch, the ‘by the same author’ page) – who takes us through reality and hallucination with equanimity, who meets the strange and the mundane with aplomb. We have no choice but to believe what he sees, or at the very least to take it at face value until some other explanation presents itself. You can’t help but buy into it and that makes it eminently readable.

And there, for me, is the nub of the book. Are you apt to believe? Are you drawn by the esoteric? Or is it all mumbo-jumbo to you, all the ranting of crazies? Whichever way the wind blows for you, you’ll note the echoes here. The Book Of Luce is something of a mirror in which we might see those proclivities reflected. If we choose to, we can even chuckle at ourselves along the way.


Although this is a quest and we trip from one clue to the next as the trope dictates don’t let the wordiness fool you. The narrator’s voice is finely tuned – a hint of that received pronunciation that could open doors back then, and allied to that a sense of a mind succumbing to the effects of all those drugs, though you’re never quite sure just how lucid he is. The planning is very tight and while there is an amount of coincidence to the turn of events the very nature of those occurrences is brought into question. Is it happenstance or serendipity, cause or effect?

The press blurb cites David Mitchell meets David Bowie though for me it’s far more Herman Hesse meets Salman Rushdie: the acceptance and presentation of what’s beyond the veil as part of everyday life coupled with a scholarly grasp of the subject matter. There’s an extensive bibliography supplied to go with the many quotes in the book and I strongly suspect a good deal of it is genuine.


That there is something more, something better, something beyond the life we live is the oldest of stories. And surely it’s a good thing that we’ve looked, that we continue to do so. Surely it speaks to our better nature that we believe we are capable of more. Will The Book Of Luce change your mind, or open it up to that possibility? I don’t know, but you might well enjoy the journey to finding out and that can never be a bad thing.


The Book of Luce is published by Hodder & Stoughton on the 10th August 2017 ISBN: 9781848543348

You can find L R on Twitter @LRFredericks or at her website,

My thanks to Jenni Leech at Hodder for allowing me to review this book


3 Responses to “Van has finished reading… The Book Of Luce by LR Fredericks”

  1. L.R.Fredericks (@LRFredericks) 10/08/2017 at 3:12 pm #

    Hey Van, Thank you so much for such an exceptionally perceptive review. It really means a lot to me that you took the trouble to read so sensitively, and that you seem to ‘get it’ as more than just entertainment, though obviously I do love to entertain. I’m tickled pink by the Hesse-Rushdie comparison… You refer to Chimera Obscura as ‘he’ in your review — I’m just curious if you ever noticed that you’re never told whether CO is male or female…All best, LR Fredericks

    • vanisreading 11/08/2017 at 9:47 am #

      Haha! yes, well, noticed might be too strong a word, though I think that’s the way it should be. It’s interesting how we make these assumptions as readers. Something about the swagger in the voice, and the sibling rivalry too, said male to me, and with no information to suggest otherwise it stuck. The thought first occurred to me at Japan I think, and then in writing the review I had a definite moment of, ‘are we ever told?’ It’s nicely done.

      • L.R.Fredericks (@LRFredericks) 11/08/2017 at 1:43 pm #

        You got it exactly right. I wanted people to realise at some point that they’ve not been told, take note of their own assumptions, and enjoy not knowing. Again, thanks!

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