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Synopsis

Dedalus specialises in fiction that could roughly be classified as gothic or arcane - or indeed gnostic. First published in 1995, this one immediately caught readers' imaginations and has since become something of a contemporary classic. It has a cute frame opening (' It is not necessary for me to relate precisely how these memoirs fell into my hands...' ) and an ugly, if memorable opening proper, reminiscent of the start of Earthly Powers: ' This morning his Holiness summoned me to read from St Augustine, while the physician applied unguents and salves to his suppurating arse...' The rest is freakish couplings, religious sects, torture: a cracking read for all ages, then. Giles Foden in The Guardian

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