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The Deadly Space Between (2002)

by Patricia Duncker

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1474138,471 (3.17)5
At the center of The Deadly Space Between is an adolescent boy, Toby Hawk, whose intimate relationship with his mother and her mysterious lover leads to a chilling outcome. A solitary boy in a family of independent, unconventional women, Toby lives in a small, closed world that consists of school and surfing the Internet. His mother, only fifteen years his senior, is a painter on the brink of commercial success. But everything changes when she takes up with Roehm, a fascinating but enigmatic scientist. As he begins his slow dance of courtship and seduction, alienating mother from son, their lives become unstable and duplicitous. But who is Roehm really -- this huge, sinister, irresistible man with no discernible past? The confused adolescent turns to the Web for clues about his mothers hauntingly seductive, predatory lover -- and the answers he finds transform his life.An eerie psychological ghost story with echoes of Faust, Freud, and Frankenstein, The Deadly Space Between is a disturbing tale of Oedipal passions -- a rich and dark exploration of sexual ambiguity and longing.… (more)
  1. 00
    Guilty by Anna Kavan (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Quite different plots and presentations but in both the key figures are eminent and mysterious men who exert an apparently malign power over the lives of the young, impressionable protagonists. Both books leave ambiguities unresolved and both are good.
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Showing 4 of 4
Tobias Hawk is an 18-year old boy living in Britain. An intentional loner, he grows up surrounded by women: his mother, an artist only 15 years his senior; his Great-Aunt Luce, a well-off (rising?) fashion designer, strong-willed and loud; and Luce's girlfriend/partner, Liberty. Enters the large, mysterious, and foreign yet, non-accented Roehm, the much older man who becomes Iso's (Toby's mother) lover and plays with both mother and son. The back cover describes the novel as: "an eerie psychological ghost story with echoes of Faust, Freud, and Frankenstein...a disturbing tale of Oedipal passions - a rich and dark exploration of sexual ambiguity and longing."
Eerie, disturbing, Oedipal, and ambiguity are excellent words to describe this novel. One is not quite sure where the book is going to end up and the Oedipal element ended up being a bit much for me (you will understand what I mean should you read the book). While Patricia Duncker is a master with the English language, the book ultimately leaves me with more questions than answers, which to some may be enjoyable, but something I personally dislike. The novel's conclusion is wrapped up in 10 pages, almost as if Duncker got tired of writing and wrote a hasty conclusion, thus why the novel leaves more questions than answers.
The book's hasty ending, the mass of questions unanswered, and the general feeling of uncomfortableness I felt while reading it are the reasons I gave the book only 2 stars and the reasons that cause me to caution anyone before they decide to read it. ( )
1 vote melancholycat | Jul 15, 2009 |
I have read that book - obviously - but looking at it after so many years, I can't remember what it was about.
I might have to read it again. Then again, life is short and full of yet unread books.
  spacedlaw | Aug 6, 2007 |
NO spoilers
Undoubtedly the weirdest, strangest book I've ever read, but the truth is that it is also one of the better-written works I've read. Extremely disturbing due to its incestuous content, the story is really kind of creepy. Very much in the psychological vein, the story is very dark in tone. I would recommend it to people who are looking for something rather unique in their reading.

The story is told by one Toby Hawke, a boy of 18 who lives with his mom and has never seen his father. The only other family Toby knows is his great-aunt Luce and her lover Liberty. Toby's mom, Isolde (Iso), is only 15 years older than Toby, and Toby and she have been close all of his life -- maybe too close, because Toby is in love with her. Thus begins the whole "Oedipal page-turner," as advertised on my copy of the novel. But a new figure enters their lives -- a mysterious stranger known only as Roehm, who begins to exert a bizarre influence on both son and mother, turning their once quiet & somewhat predictable existence into a living hell for the two of them.

If you can shed your disgust long enough to finish the story (which I had to do -- I almost put the book away at a key point or two), you may enjoy this one. There are some things that bugged me about the book, but the story is quite good, and you'll have to decide for yourself what is really going on here. The ending may leave people a little upset, because of its abruptness, but it is in keeping with the rest of the story. ( )
  bcquinnsmom | May 9, 2006 |
Showing 4 of 4
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At the center of The Deadly Space Between is an adolescent boy, Toby Hawk, whose intimate relationship with his mother and her mysterious lover leads to a chilling outcome. A solitary boy in a family of independent, unconventional women, Toby lives in a small, closed world that consists of school and surfing the Internet. His mother, only fifteen years his senior, is a painter on the brink of commercial success. But everything changes when she takes up with Roehm, a fascinating but enigmatic scientist. As he begins his slow dance of courtship and seduction, alienating mother from son, their lives become unstable and duplicitous. But who is Roehm really -- this huge, sinister, irresistible man with no discernible past? The confused adolescent turns to the Web for clues about his mothers hauntingly seductive, predatory lover -- and the answers he finds transform his life.An eerie psychological ghost story with echoes of Faust, Freud, and Frankenstein, The Deadly Space Between is a disturbing tale of Oedipal passions -- a rich and dark exploration of sexual ambiguity and longing.

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