The Sound Mirror by Heidi James review – an exceptional, intimate voice

The lives of three women are linked in a conceptually daring novel with the propulsion of a thriller

Tamara is on her way to kill her mother and she’s bringing her female ancestors with her, a Greek chorus consisting of “fragments, un-unified, unstable entities colliding under the swirling universe”. It is they who narrate the lives of The Sound Mirror’s three linked female characters: Tamara, Ada and Claire. How exactly these women relate to each other is the central mystery.

The communal voice could be jarring, but Heidi James keeps the ancestors to a close third person that renders their occasional comments on the action the more chilling. “We’re all gamblers, holding out for a change in our luck,” they say, of the generations of women who have tried to haul themselves out of poverty. But “The house always wins. Mother is always right.”

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