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The Devil's Mixtape by Mary Borsellino

book cover of The Devils Mixtape

This is certainly an ambitious book. It spans two countries, half a century, and more characters than you can conceivably keep straight (unless you take notes, which might be your best option). It wants to impart so much thought on Christianity, alienation, murder, etc, etc..

YMMV, of course, but it didn’t convince me. I couldn’t keep track of all the characters, especially the ones who went by multiple names. While the novel plays around with different formats – sometimes narrative, sometimes letters, sometimes music journalism – the actual “voice” of the many different characters was very samey. It was also really preachy in some parts, which was bad enough when I agreed with the sentiment, and worse still when I didn’t. (I just can’t buy humanity being inherently evil.) I also did not care about any of the serial killers, bank robbers, etc. whose life stories got infodumped and ended up taking a lot of space in the novel. Lastly, while I appreciate that this novel sets out to include representatives from different social groups that are usually marginalised, I agree with this excellent review that their treatment often seemed tokenistic (I’m thinking especially of the trans band member).

I don’t really want to be all doom and gloom, because the writing certainly had potential, and maybe if the themes (Christianity, humans being evil, etc.) had been more to my taste I’d have been able to overlook the other stuff. So, I don’t know. I would certainly recommend this for anyone interested in serial killers/mass murderers. Provided you don’t mind some fantastical elements like demons thrown in, of course.

★★

a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.