Observatory Mansions

Edward Carey

21 March 2019
368 pages


I consider [Observatory Mansions] the best fiction yet published in the 21st Century' Jeff Vandermeer

'All of Edward Carey's work is profound and delightful’ Max Porter

‘[Edward Carey, with Observatory Mansions] proves the potential brilliance of the novel form’ John Fowles

Observatory Mansions was once the Orme family's ancestral home. Now it is a crumbing apartment block, stranded on a traffic island and peopled with eccentrics. Alice Orme never stirs from her bed, her husband lives in his old armchair, and Francis, their son, practises his own art of stillness as a human statue in the centre of the decaying city. He lives by his Law of White Gloves, never touching anything without their protection, and collects items for his secret exhibition - items stolen, not because of any monetary worth, but because they are treasured by the owners.

This careful routine is shaken by the arrival of a new resident, Anna Tap, half blind and vulnerable, but with a strange gift for inspiring trust. As the other residents gradually open their hearts to her, Francis realises he must act before she forces him to confront his own past, and before she finds out about the mysterious final object in his exhibition. But as the currents of memory and desire swirl within Observatory Mansions' crumbling walls, it seems the sinister Porter has plans of his own...

Edward Carey's debut is a novel of immense originality - a strangely haunting landscape occupied by compelling and unforgettable characters.

Simply the best Gothic fantasy of the new century. This first novel by Edward Carey… is stunning in its use of a dark fantasy atmosphere even though, as in Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books, nothing fantastical happens… [ The beauty of the prose, and the clear yet gothic quality of the narration gave me the chills.I must confess that the novel got under my skin and moved me deeply…In all ways that count, Observatory Mansions is a major work. I consider it the best fiction yet published in the 21st century.
Edward Carey is one of the strangest writers we are privileged to have in this country. There are echoes in his work of other great idiosyncratics from Angela Carter to Russell Hoban, but he supersedes even them in the downright oddity of his mind.
Edward Carey has an imagination of tremendous range and power. He transforms the familiar stuff of life in shapes utterly strange and marvellous. This is a novel of truly startling originality.