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From the author of the story collections Heartbreaker and Rag comes a powerful and propulsive debut novel that examines activism, love, and purpose. When fifteen-year-old Xie moves from California to a rural Southern town to live with his father he makes just two friends, Jo and Leni, both budding environmental and animal activists. One night, the three friends decide to fr From the author of the story collections Heartbreaker and Rag comes a powerful and propulsive debut novel that examines activism, love, and purpose. When fifteen-year-old Xie moves from California to a rural Southern town to live with his father he makes just two friends, Jo and Leni, both budding environmental and animal activists. One night, the three friends decide to free captive mink from a local farm. But when Xie is the only one caught his small world gets smaller: kicked out of high school, he becomes increasingly connected with nature, spending his time in the birch woods behind his house, attending extremist activist meetings, and serving as a custodian for what others ignore, abuse, and discard. Exploring the woods alone one night, Xie discovers the relic of a Catholic saint - the martyred Pancratius - in a nearby church. Regal and dressed in ornate armor, the skeleton captivates him. After weeks of visits, Xie steals the skeleton, hides it in his attic bedroom, and develops a complex and passionate relationship with the bones and spirit of the saint, whom he calls P. As Xie's relationship deepens with P., so too does his relationship with the woods - private property that will soon be overrun with loggers. As Xie enacts a plan to save his beloved woods, he must also find a way to balance his conflicting - and increasingly extreme - ideals of purity, sacrifice, and responsibility in order to live in this world. Maryse Meijer's The Seventh Mansion is a deeply moving and profoundly original debut novel - both an urgent literary call to arms and an unforgettable coming-of-age story about finding love and selfhood in the face of mass extinction and environmental destruction.


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From the author of the story collections Heartbreaker and Rag comes a powerful and propulsive debut novel that examines activism, love, and purpose. When fifteen-year-old Xie moves from California to a rural Southern town to live with his father he makes just two friends, Jo and Leni, both budding environmental and animal activists. One night, the three friends decide to fr From the author of the story collections Heartbreaker and Rag comes a powerful and propulsive debut novel that examines activism, love, and purpose. When fifteen-year-old Xie moves from California to a rural Southern town to live with his father he makes just two friends, Jo and Leni, both budding environmental and animal activists. One night, the three friends decide to free captive mink from a local farm. But when Xie is the only one caught his small world gets smaller: kicked out of high school, he becomes increasingly connected with nature, spending his time in the birch woods behind his house, attending extremist activist meetings, and serving as a custodian for what others ignore, abuse, and discard. Exploring the woods alone one night, Xie discovers the relic of a Catholic saint - the martyred Pancratius - in a nearby church. Regal and dressed in ornate armor, the skeleton captivates him. After weeks of visits, Xie steals the skeleton, hides it in his attic bedroom, and develops a complex and passionate relationship with the bones and spirit of the saint, whom he calls P. As Xie's relationship deepens with P., so too does his relationship with the woods - private property that will soon be overrun with loggers. As Xie enacts a plan to save his beloved woods, he must also find a way to balance his conflicting - and increasingly extreme - ideals of purity, sacrifice, and responsibility in order to live in this world. Maryse Meijer's The Seventh Mansion is a deeply moving and profoundly original debut novel - both an urgent literary call to arms and an unforgettable coming-of-age story about finding love and selfhood in the face of mass extinction and environmental destruction.

30 review for The Seventh Mansion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paris (parisperusing)

    CANT. BREATHE

  2. 5 out of 5

    Becky Spratford

    Review in the July 2020 issue of Booklist and on the blog: https://raforall.blogspot.com/2020/07... Three Words That Describe This Book: disorienting, atmospheric, lyrical Review in the July 2020 issue of Booklist and on the blog: https://raforall.blogspot.com/2020/07... Three Words That Describe This Book: disorienting, atmospheric, lyrical

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Maryse Meijer is one of my very favorite unsung authors. Her short story collections are full of raw and provocative writing and her novella Northwood: A Novella is one of my favorites from 2018. I've been looking forward to her first novel for a long time. That's why I'm so disappointed that I was simply not able to get on board with this book. I found it strangely lifeless and difficult to slog through. Very bummed, but I'll still be looking for Meijer's next work, whatever it turns out to be. Maryse Meijer is one of my very favorite unsung authors. Her short story collections are full of raw and provocative writing and her novella Northwood: A Novella is one of my favorites from 2018. I've been looking forward to her first novel for a long time. That's why I'm so disappointed that I was simply not able to get on board with this book. I found it strangely lifeless and difficult to slog through. Very bummed, but I'll still be looking for Meijer's next work, whatever it turns out to be.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maryse Meijer

    It's really pretty good. It's really pretty good.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This little piece of eco-fiction was radical, in the slangiest sense of the term. The unique prose style was baffling, and I never stopped. Getting caught off guard. Loved “the girls,” loved Erik. Even its most grotesque parts were tender. It was sort of like one of those tv shows about the supernatural, but what really has your attention is the characters’ personal lives. Sure, the main character has sex with a skeleton, but give me more weird bonding scenes with his dad! I can totally see this This little piece of eco-fiction was radical, in the slangiest sense of the term. The unique prose style was baffling, and I never stopped. Getting caught off guard. Loved “the girls,” loved Erik. Even its most grotesque parts were tender. It was sort of like one of those tv shows about the supernatural, but what really has your attention is the characters’ personal lives. Sure, the main character has sex with a skeleton, but give me more weird bonding scenes with his dad! I can totally see this book being a cult classic one day. Maryse Meijer will be getting reissued by NYRB in 60 years.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Robinson

    Review to come on SciFi and Scary

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: The Seventh Mansion Author: Maryse Meijer Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/FSG Originals Publication Date: September 8, 2020 Review Date: May 23, 2020 I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: “From the author of the story collections Heartbreaker and Rag comes a powerful and propulsive debut novel that examines activism, love, and purpose When fifteen-year-old Xie moves from California to a rural Southern town to live with his father he mak Book Review: The Seventh Mansion Author: Maryse Meijer Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/FSG Originals Publication Date: September 8, 2020 Review Date: May 23, 2020 I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: “From the author of the story collections Heartbreaker and Rag comes a powerful and propulsive debut novel that examines activism, love, and purpose When fifteen-year-old Xie moves from California to a rural Southern town to live with his father he makes just two friends, Jo and Leni, both budding environmental and animal activists. One night, the three friends decide to free captive mink from a local farm. But when Xie is the only one caught his small world gets smaller: Kicked out of high school, he becomes increasingly connected with nature, spending his time in the birch woods behind his house, attending extremist activist meetings, and serving as a custodian for what others ignore, abuse, and discard. Exploring the woods alone one night, Xie discovers the relic of a Catholic saint—the martyred Pancratius—in a nearby church. Regal and dressed in ornate armor, the skeleton captivates him. After weeks of visits, Xie steals the skeleton, hides it in his attic bedroom, and develops a complex and passionate relationship with the bones and spirit of the saint, whom he calls P. As Xie’s relationship deepens with P., so too does his relationship with the woods—private property that will soon be overrun with loggers. As Xie enacts a plan to save his beloved woods, he must also find a way to balance his conflicting—and increasingly extreme—ideals of purity, sacrifice, and responsibility in order to live in this world. Maryse Meijer's The Seventh Mansion is a deeply moving and profoundly original debut novel—both an urgent literary call to arms and an unforgettable coming-of-age story about finding love and selfhood in the face of mass extinction and environmental destruction.” This was an absolutely extraordinary book. And very, very odd. The story was strange. And the writing itself, the grammar, was very unusual. The use of punctuation was not the standard way of using punctuation and creating sentence structure. Periods were often placed in the middle of sentences. It took some getting used to to get the hang of reading this book because of the nonstandard grammar. Xie robbed a church in the woods near his home of a locked up skeleton a saint, Saint Pancratius. He hides the skeleton in his attic bedroom, where he develops an intense and sexual relationship with the skeleton and the energetic being of St. Pancratius. It’s written in such a way, that I found this relationship to be believable and not just some weird oddity. The characters were deeply defined, especially the protagonist, Xie. The plot was perfectly constructed. The setting details were very sharp, especially the woods, the smells, sights and sounds. There is a highly spiritual aspect to the book that I found lovely and satisfying. I read the author’s book of short stories, Rag. I remember thinking it was pretty odd. This novel is even more strange. If you’re looking for a formulaic, cut and dried book, I’d skip this one. If you can tolerate strangeness in all aspects of a book, including character and plot, I highly recommend that you read this book. I give it 5 stars, with the caveat that it’s not for everyone. I’d say it’s for serious, patient readers. It’s a book I intend to go back and re-read at least once a year. Thank you to FSG for allowing me early access to this beautiful book. Best of luck to the author with her literary career. I look forward seeing what she writes next. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon. #netgalley #theseventhmansion #marysemeijer #farrarstrausandgiroux

  8. 4 out of 5

    mad mags

    (Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review though Edelweiss. Trigger warning for sexual assault, homophobia, violence against animals, and disturbing sexual content.) -- 4.5 stars -- There is this person I love. And he’s not even a person. After Xie's parents split and an environmental disaster sends his already precarious mental health spiraling, Xie and his father Erik relocate from California to an unnamed town in the rural south, in search of the proverbial fresh start. At first, Xie (Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review though Edelweiss. Trigger warning for sexual assault, homophobia, violence against animals, and disturbing sexual content.) -- 4.5 stars -- There is this person I love. And he’s not even a person. After Xie's parents split and an environmental disaster sends his already precarious mental health spiraling, Xie and his father Erik relocate from California to an unnamed town in the rural south, in search of the proverbial fresh start. At first, Xie is your garden-variety teenage outcast: melancholy. goth. vegan. an outsider. friendless. forgettable. Yet he's quickly "adopted" by the only other vegans in the school - girlfriends Jo and Leni, who together make up the entirety of FKK. The group's animal rights activism slowly evolves from leafleting to direct action: the trio breaks into a local mink farm, freeing as many of its captives as they can. Xie is nabbed during the getaway, and suddenly he goes from "nobody" to "that freak who vandalized the Moore farm". Instead of silence and indifference, Xie is met by hostile sneers, gossip, and relentless bullying. He takes a leave of absence from high school, instead getting one-on-one tutoring at the local library. His parents are forced to pay restitution, and Xie's placed on probation. Xie's only respite is nature: his burgeoning vegetable garden; the small but pristine forest behind his house; and, eventually, the mysterious light, nestled among the branches, that leads him to a tiny church - and his beloved. St. Pancratius, who was martyred in 304 A.D. and whose remains are on covert display in a one-room church in the middle of nowhere. He traces the image with his finger. The story the same in every version: A boy on a road, refusing to lift his sword against the lamb, losing his head every time the story is told, again and again and again. Still, all of this comes with a cost: loving nature, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral, means saying goodbye to it one day. Relationships can be messy, even when they're with clean bones. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own shit that we're oblivious to what our loved ones are going through. Maybe your tutor shows up to work one day piss drunk and tells you about her abortion. Or your friends drag you to a backwoods meeting of environmental activists, where one of them sexually assaults you. Or you show up to a mass protest that is even more massive than you anticipated, and find you're unable to protect yourself, let alone the 55 billion+ land animals slaughtered for food every year in the US alone (animalclock.org). The problem is too big, even when it's one of the smaller ones. The problem is impossible. While disturbing, Xie's theft of a skeleton is not the worst crime he'll commit in his teen years. As FKK becomes involved with a local animal rights group, and Xie's sanctuary is threatened, he careens toward an inevitable (????) collision with the outside world, which neither understands him - nor cares to. (Fuck capitalism.) THE SEVENTH MANSION is one weird-ass book; I mean, the main character has sex with a skeleton (!). This is certainly the wildest aspect of the story, but it's not alone. For example, take the narrative structure, which has a kind of stream-of-(Xie's)-consciousness vibe. Many of the sentences are fractured, even forced, as though we're pulling them from the depth's of Xie's tortured soul. His thoughts. Are broken. Up. Like this. Conversely, there are no chapters, and so many of the paragraphs are just huge, unbroken blocks of text - almost as though Meijer is framing Xie in opposition to the larger world around him.* I suspect that THE SEVENTH MANSION is one of those love it or hate it dealios. Personally, I loved it, even as some parts proved excruciatingly unbearable to read. I don't know whether Meijer is vegan, but she gets so much right; sometimes it felt like she was rooting around inside my head. I went vegetarian my freshman year of college (1996, not to date myself) and vegan about 9 years later. Reading Xie was like having a mirror held up to my own depressive, anxious, vegan psyche. One thing carnists probably don't realize about walking around this world as a vegan is: it takes a ton of mental work, of suppression and dissociation, just to get through the day. Animal suffering is omnipresent, and largely accepted. From Carl's Jr. commercials to classroom trips to the zoo; leather car seats to team lunches at non-vegan restaurants, where you'll be forced to watch your coworkers and friends devour the corpse of a once-living creature - someone's mother, brother, or child - we are constantly forced to bear witness to the oppression of animals. Worse, to pretend as though it's of no consequence: just to get along, or because doing otherwise would quickly devour your time, your prospects, your relationships. To say that it's depressing is an understatement. Whether Xie is living through the oil spill that finally made his world "snap," or gazing into the eyes of caged mink, I was right there with him, trying not to cry. Not to break. There's so much suffering in the world; if you try to take it all in, to truly understand its scope, it will swallow you whole. Speaking of the oil spill, which was the impetus for Xie to go vegan - Meijer's description of this moment in Xie's life brought back so many memories. When I decided to stop eating meat, I was working at a local grocery store. Every now and again, they had an employee appreciation dinner (in lieu of a raise, natch), which basically consisted of all you can eat burgers and hot dogs in the break room. Everyone would stuff their faces, taking in as many free calories as possible. Not because they were hungry, but to get as much of a leg up on our cheap ass employer as possible. The sheer gluttony and waste of it all is what finally did it for me. No one needed to eat seven hamburgers in one night; we did because we could, because not doing so would be to lose out. The working class eating the chattel, and no one eating the rich. Point being, that's a singular moment in my life that I'll never forget. It stands out in stark relief, right alongside the deaths of my husband and furkids (six dogs and one cat down and counting). If I close my eyes, I can almost transport myself back there, white starched shirt, demo table, 7PM Friday fatigue, and all. The last time he ate meat he was twelve years old, after the spill: Xie was Alex then. Even miles from the beach, they could smell something off; at first they thought it was the sandwiches, ham pressed hot in the pockets of Erik’s windbreaker, but the closer they got to the beach the stronger the smell became, noxious, chemical. They parked at their usual spot, yellow tape blocking access to the beach beyond. A black ribbon flat against the horizon; that was the water. No trace of blue. On the rocks below the lot a half dozen pelicans huddled together. Coated from beak to foot in oil. Don’t touch them, his father said. Someone will come wash it off. But there was no one. The black sea lapping the sand. Those bewildered eyes. He watched as one of the birds collapsed, its head twisted sideways against its folded neck. His father pulled him away. The fire on the water burned for two weeks; the beach remained black for a year. Sea turtles, dolphins, whales, gulls, crabs, otters, fish, birds rolled up by the waves in the tens of thousands. Oil on meat on sand. No stopping it. Xie got headaches, bloody noses; he was always tired, couldn’t sleep. His mother standing in the doorway, Stop playing games, you’re fine. But his father was never angry. Scared of what he saw. Xie in the dark. Unable to make it from one room to another. The people who used to go to the beach just went somewhere else. Life as usual. Slumped in the backseat as his father fed gas into the truck he suddenly couldn’t stand it. Stopped standing it. He opened the back door, started walking. Alex, his father called, but he was not Alex anymore. He poured out all the milk in the house and fed the meat to the dogs next door and rode his bike everywhere. So yeah, our circumstances may be different, but Xie's conversion sure hit me in the feels. Meijer also does an excellent job capturing the heartbreak and urgency of Millennials and Gen Z. As tormented as I might have been in high school, at least I had the luxury of not thinking too much about climate change - at least until Al Gore came along. Xie and his peers, on the other hand, will bear the brunt of their predecessors' unchecked greed. Nowhere is this divide more eloquently laid bare than in Jo's post-march argument with Erik (who is likely around my age): Didn’t you see how he just folded up out there? He can’t protect himself, he won’t. You don’t know what he was like, before we came here, okay, you didn’t watch him, lying in bed day after day, ready to cut his goddamn throat because of all this shit, this constant litany of doomsday statistics, he just takes it in and he can’t—he doesn’t know what to do with it, and you want to keep shoving it in his face, when it’s—it’s enough! Staring at Jo, who stares back. Look, whatever you’re afraid of, whatever he’s afraid of, it’s already happening, okay? And he knows it, he’s living it, and he wants to do something about it. If there was some other option, some fantasyland where everything is going to be fine as long as we bury our heads in the sand, then believe me, I’d take it. But there’s not. Not for me and not for Leni and not for Xie and if you think you can protect him by denying that then you’re just—wrong. I’m sorry. She holds Erik’s gaze; he nods, the first to look away. My gods, that scene just cuts me to the bone. As bleak as things are now, I cannot imagine going through all this - climate change, COVID-19, a Trump presidency, Democratic ineptitude/complicity, *gesturing wildly* - as an adolescent. Their elders cut them down before they even started crawling. On a lighter note, Xie's scenes with his clueless mom and her equally clueless new husband (Jerry!) brought a(n admittedly wry) smile to my face. If I had a penny for every times this scene has played out in my life, I'd have enough cash monies to start my own animal sanctuary. Don’t you want some vegetables, Xie? Jerry asks. I don’t eat animal products, Xie murmurs, and Jerry, confused, staring at the green beans, How is this— Butter, Xie interrupts. Butter is from milk, which is from cows, which are animals. Jerry blinks. Gosh, I didn’t even think of that. Sorry. Xie shrugs. There's so much to obsess about here: I love Jo and Leni together, and their opposing circumstances just make the relationship so much more complex - and potentially fraught. Erik and tutor Karen (I wonder if the name choice was intentional?) are interesting supporting characters, and their relationships with Xie are so beautiful and nuanced; they both support him the best they know how. Xie's interactions with his phantom lover are a little more confusing and difficult for me to comprehend. Perhaps P. represents Xie's inability to connect with the human world around him, or at least not as well as the more abstract, ephemeral natural world. Possibly P. is Xie's ideal human: one who would rather die than raise a finger against an animal (or one who cannot disappoint you by voicing their own opinions). Or maybe it's simpler than that, and Xie's hallucinations are just that: hallucinations. In any case, it made an already odd book absolutely bizarre, but in a good way, so I can't complain. * This could just be because I was reading an early copy in need of further editing - but, seeing as how some formatting was already present, I think it was intentional.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

    I find it difficult to rate The Seventh Mansion, mainly because it's impossible to compare to anything I've read before. Meijer writes the coming-of-age of Xie, a teenage boy whose veganism has led him to the edge of extreme environmental activism. Xie is caught breaking into a local farm to set free dozens of minks and his world spirals after that. He leaves school to work with a private tutor and spends more and more time alone in the woods behind his house, connecting with the trees, the dirt I find it difficult to rate The Seventh Mansion, mainly because it's impossible to compare to anything I've read before. Meijer writes the coming-of-age of Xie, a teenage boy whose veganism has led him to the edge of extreme environmental activism. Xie is caught breaking into a local farm to set free dozens of minks and his world spirals after that. He leaves school to work with a private tutor and spends more and more time alone in the woods behind his house, connecting with the trees, the dirt, the bones of small animals. Xie is completely disgusted with humanity and its apparent disregard for nature and animal life, thus his interest in bones. While exploring the woods one night, he enters a small church and discovers the preserved skeleton of Saint Pancratius. After many evening visits with Pancratius (P. as Xie calls him), Xie steals the skeleton and brings it home to keep in his room. As he develops an obsessive and intimate relationship with the skeleton, Xie continues to struggle with human connection and pursues possibly dangerous environmental actions. Meijer's borderline stream-of-consciousness writing style is compelling and morbidly fascinating. The reader finds themselves tossed in and out of Xie's thoughts with no rhyme or reason. Even his most bizarre inner thoughts almost make sense when Meijer shines her light on them. It's impossible not to care for Xie, but to also wonder if he is truly not for this world.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen (idleutopia_reads)

    #gifted-Prelude to a review-You should know that I have loved Maryse Meijer’s books in the past. I have been plunged into deep, dark, visceral, esoteric experiences that I haven’t experienced before. Reading Meijer is an experience in and of itself that takes you on exhilarating twists and turns that leave you changed after reading her works. I have been amazed by her writing and I am telling you all of this because I didn’t love the Seventh Mansion. At its surface, the Seventh Mansion is the st #gifted-Prelude to a review-You should know that I have loved Maryse Meijer’s books in the past. I have been plunged into deep, dark, visceral, esoteric experiences that I haven’t experienced before. Reading Meijer is an experience in and of itself that takes you on exhilarating twists and turns that leave you changed after reading her works. I have been amazed by her writing and I am telling you all of this because I didn’t love the Seventh Mansion. At its surface, the Seventh Mansion is the story of Xie (formerly named Alex), a 16 year old vegan activist, who is trying to live ethically in an extremely unethical world. We begin following Xie after he’s experiencing the disastrous consequences of trying to free minks from a farm and getting caught. On top of that, he’s dealing with the trauma of having witnessed an oil spill near his previous home, and how it completely changed how he saw the world around him. The scene with the oil spill is truly one of the most sense enhancing scenes I’ve ever read, you smell, feel, and breathe what Xie is experiencing in that moment and the moments after this event. The beginning of this book begins with staccato sentences that leaves you stalling at every turn. Meijer takes the malleability of each sentence to form a bond between the reader and Xie so we can feel what Xie is feeling. It isn’t until Xie stumbles into a church deep in the forest and finds the skeleton remains of Pancratius (a boy made martyr for his refusal to slaughter a lamb) that the sentences begin to flow as Xie is finally able to find a connection and a love that he’s seen other experiencing. For your edification, there is no other word for having sex with a skeleton other than necrophilia. Yep, the story goes there and it’s eerily beautiful in its description. Xie steals Pancratius’ bones and begins a relationship with P. (an aura like figure that accompanies Xie and makes everything around him brighter). To Meijer’s point, the title the Seventh Mansion comes from famed mystic Teresa of Avila’s book “Interior Castle”. Drawing a parallel between mysticism in religious texts comparing it to the mysticism that Xie experiences with P, itself a form of religion mixed with a good deal of paganism. Some of my favorite sections were the philosophical questions that Xie asks himself and those around them about the kind of world we are living in. Those sections did leave me questioning and to this book’s point I am still thinking about it days later. We follow an eco-group that’s more performance and talk than action, which Xie compares to Teresa of Avila’s book as well, a book that talks a lot about God and being good, but is less about actually doing good. The premise of this book is fantastic if a bit strange. The problem for me was that while Xie has no problem pointing out the privileges and hypocrisies of others, he spends less time focusing on his own. There is a part in the book where this is brought up but it doesn’t go further than that. The other problem is that Xie chose to change his name (and I never find out why, it was only said to have happened after the oil spill) and to me the name that he chose was appropriation. It was hard for me to be inside of his 16 year old brain as he’s experiencing life that is constantly changing around him. This is truly a coming of age story and I can’t even imagine what it is like growing up in the world as we currently know it. To be perfectly honest, I was utterly bored with the book which I wasn’t expecting since I have loved Meijer’s books in the past. There is a culmination in the end where Xie takes actions against a deforestation that’s happening near his home that calls into question whether extreme action/defense is needed when extreme destruction is taking place. So I’ll end my ramble by saying this one just wasn’t for me but it has great reviews elsewhere so make sure to check those out.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marko

    Well... I'm disappointed. The large, unstructured blocks of text, and then the structure of the sentence itself, were such a turnoff. The writing style is... unbearable and honestly - I couldn't wait to get to the end. (view spoiler)["Her arm hanging limp at her side. What if. Dead or. But no, some sound coming from her, mumbling. What? Karen, it's me, are you. And touching her arm, she lifts her head, what is that other smell. Realizing. Drunk. One kind of panic replaced by another. Here, can you Well... I'm disappointed. The large, unstructured blocks of text, and then the structure of the sentence itself, were such a turnoff. The writing style is... unbearable and honestly - I couldn't wait to get to the end. (view spoiler)["Her arm hanging limp at her side. What if. Dead or. But no, some sound coming from her, mumbling. What? Karen, it's me, are you. And touching her arm, she lifts her head, what is that other smell. Realizing. Drunk. One kind of panic replaced by another. Here, can you sit up? Her head falling back, mouth open, she swallows. Squints. But can't. Talk. Did you drive like this? No bottle in the car, but. A thermos in the cupholder. Sniffs it. Pure alcohol. Shit, he breathes. Her heavy exhale, unintelligible murmur. The parking lot not. Safe because. She could get in trouble or. Fired, if Greg finds out, reports her." (...) (hide spoiler)] Choices.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kyleen

    I got halfway through and just couldn’t anymore.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jules

    Honestly I wasn't sure I was going to keep reading this book but then somehow I was most of the way through. This is a very memorable novel about conviction and morality. Meijer's prose is both dreamlike, notional, figurative and also literal and sensual, in a "I feel like I am also having a nosebleed" type of way. Honestly I wasn't sure I was going to keep reading this book but then somehow I was most of the way through. This is a very memorable novel about conviction and morality. Meijer's prose is both dreamlike, notional, figurative and also literal and sensual, in a "I feel like I am also having a nosebleed" type of way.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I received an e-book ARC of The Seventh Mansion from NetGalley and the publisher, FSG Originals, in exchange for my honest review, which follows below. I thank both for this opportunity. I rated this 5 stars. This is not the usual read, where checking off what I personally require to meet a certain star rating can be easily done; my attempt to help any readers of my review make their own decision regarding the material in question. I still felt a 5 star rating was easily given, partly due to how I received an e-book ARC of The Seventh Mansion from NetGalley and the publisher, FSG Originals, in exchange for my honest review, which follows below. I thank both for this opportunity. I rated this 5 stars. This is not the usual read, where checking off what I personally require to meet a certain star rating can be easily done; my attempt to help any readers of my review make their own decision regarding the material in question. I still felt a 5 star rating was easily given, partly due to how unique a read this was. Some things should be experienced large scale ( in this case by the horror community ); even if the individual reactions will differ, possibly wildly. Mine was dappled with nostalgia. It opened in me a memory of yearning, from when I was just starting to figure out who I was underneath all the layers used to hide myself; wondering if connecting to someone was beyond me. The author captures that trembling balance between absolute certainty and grasping at answers every person goes through. I thought this was a very complex novel, and that some may have trouble reading it; expecting everything to wrap up nicely will lead to disappointment. It struck me somewhat similar to Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones, which also has a narrator that you are unsure of; either he is unreliable or there are fantastical things happening in this story, shaping his choices irrevocably. And like with that novel, releasing on the same day I believe, each reading may give me a different outcome; my decisions not set in stone, more like drawn in sand with the tide coming in. But that is part of what excites me about this, because what if I missed the way a sentence may have been interpreted; unlocking a whole perspective I’ve never considered? The writing can be disjointed, the punctuation and sentence structure off; it reads like a person’s thoughts. I’ll admit it took a bit before I could read it smoothly, but it kept you right where the author wanted you; focused in the moment. Xie is returning to school after summer break; where he was once able to move about invisible, now he has a target on his back from a failed attempt at activism. Years before, aged twelve and still living in California, the damage of an oil spill to the sea life and creatures living on the beaches he loved caused him to dramatically change his world view. Now he is trying a new fit in another city, fanatically vegan, riding his bike everywhere, and until last summer staying under the radar of pretty much everyone. He has friends that feel the same way, just not as strict or disciplined as him. They were with him over the summer, when he tried to free all the minks from a farms property; but only he was caught, only his family has to pay back monetary loss to the mink farmers. He walks through the wooded areas by his home constantly; the more comfortable he is with the land the more proprietary I think he feels towards it. He collects objects, mainly animal bone, from his walks, and keeps them in his bedroom. You’re given this overall sense that he is more comfortable the closer to nature he can be, even falling asleep on mossy ground is preferable to laying on a mattress. One night he walks in a direction he rarely travels and finds a church that houses the armored remains of the Saint Pancratius. There are some sexual feelings in Xie that are growing wrapped/warped in his obsession in a world of no waste. Or, he dislikes the idea of someone else touching him; the cleanliness of bone is sensual to him. He has a fascination with bone, the idea of holding someone made of bone. And then he sees this full skeleton locked in a glass case; he is called beloved. This is where the reader will begin to wonder; do I trust what the narrator is telling me? Is the reader to believe that a Saint wanted a teenager to take its body and hide it away in the attic of his family home; under cover of darkness and his father’s nose? Are we, the readers, to be comfortable with the idea that a long dead boy, who would not slay the lamb, would now be having an impossible sexual relationship with Xie, in almost any location he chooses? But if P, as Xie refers to him, is all in Xie’s mind, then wouldn’t their conversations always be exactly how Xie wants them to be? They wouldn’t have miscommunication if P were just a part of Xie’s mind filling an emptiness, right? There are also moments where the reader is not completely sure that the environment is not affected by P, and if he is able to change something physically then isn’t he by definition real? Through this almost idyllic period for Xie, all I can see is how much the people around him are straining for a way to connect and get him to open up. How much freedom do you offer a child, hoping that they will bloom; how much privacy do you give them, on the off chance they will trust you with any small fact? Is it always like taming a wild beast, balancing between breaking them enough so you can guide them, but not enough that their spirit flags and they whither, die? Xie’s father, Erik, honestly comes across like he is trying his best. They are the two characters in this novel I felt for the most; but all the characters were human, there were flaws and quirks special to each one. There is so much that I am staying purposely vague about, you have to if you want to stay spoiler free. And this novel is one that almost can not end any other way, minus whether or not you have the religious experience happening to Xie; if you call it that, or maybe spiritual coupling? The parts of the novel that we can agree happen in reality, there is no other way for the story to unravel. But you the reader will wish it with all your might; that you could change it. This is a horror that builds, it creeps, and it infiltrates the parts of you that you thought were well protected. Like I said at the beginning, this is not a usual read. I thought it was an achingly beautiful read, it’s almost like a bruise; I can’t stop poking at it, even though it hurts.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Barney

    even vegans have skeletons in their closets

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Hogmire

    Thanks to FSG for an advance Netgalley of this title in exchange for an honest review (pub date: Sept 8, 2020)-- The Seventh Mansion is likely to be the best book you'll ever read about a radical teenage environmental activist having sex with the skeleton of a dead Catholic saint. Yes, you read that right. I've enjoyed Maryse Meijer's strange work previously (like her dark fairy tale novella Northwood), and this new experimental short novel of sentence fragments and long, unbroken paragraphs certa Thanks to FSG for an advance Netgalley of this title in exchange for an honest review (pub date: Sept 8, 2020)-- The Seventh Mansion is likely to be the best book you'll ever read about a radical teenage environmental activist having sex with the skeleton of a dead Catholic saint. Yes, you read that right. I've enjoyed Maryse Meijer's strange work previously (like her dark fairy tale novella Northwood), and this new experimental short novel of sentence fragments and long, unbroken paragraphs certainly doesn't disappoint. The book tells the story of Xie--a young vegan from CA who moves in with his dad and quickly gets in trouble for freeing minks from a local farm. Xie becomes increasingly isolated in his new conservative community, working with a tutor instead of going to school and spending most of his time alone in the local woods. When he discovers the body of Saint Pancratius in a decrepit church, Xie develops an attraction to the figure's care for animals and eventually steals the bones. As the novel progresses, Xie starts seeing "P" everywhere and begins reading odd religious texts instead of doing his schoolwork. After engaging in more direct actions with his climate activist friends, Xie finds out that the local forest he loves is in danger, and he'll have to decide what actions to take. Meijer's book is so melancholy and timely, regarding the current environmental decimation of the world due to climate change, and Xie's concerns about how to live an ethical existence are heartbreaking and relatable. Xie is attracted to the saint's skeleton because it's not possible for him to hurt P. In a society based around material consumption, it's easy to start seeing everything as a transaction involving some level of harm, even relationships with other human beings. We're left wondering: can we do anything without hurting someone or something? As Xie despairs about the state of things, he begins to slip into common eco-fascist rhetoric, saying that humans are the virus. In reality, native and indigenous people maintained positive relationships with nature for thousands of years before the rise of settler colonialism. I wished I could tell Xie that the real virus is capitalism. After finishing The Seventh Mansion, I'm not sure if Xie will learn this political lesson (then again, he's young). But, if we want anything to really change, all of us will have to.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrienne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Xie/Alex gets into trouble with his activist friends. They got caught freeing some minks that ended up slaughtered anyway. This book was frustrating in so many levels. The punctuation is a nightmare to read, like I’m experiencing dyslexia or something - you don’t know who’s saying what - No quotation marks. Fine, it’s a style, I get it. So Xie gets every possible accommodation for a 15-year old- his dad lets him do whatever he wants (even goes with him to one of his protests). Xie is shown kindn Xie/Alex gets into trouble with his activist friends. They got caught freeing some minks that ended up slaughtered anyway. This book was frustrating in so many levels. The punctuation is a nightmare to read, like I’m experiencing dyslexia or something - you don’t know who’s saying what - No quotation marks. Fine, it’s a style, I get it. So Xie gets every possible accommodation for a 15-year old- his dad lets him do whatever he wants (even goes with him to one of his protests). Xie is shown kindness. By his peers, even the farm owners he terrorized. And then there are the bones of a Catholic saint that he discovers and brings home. It’s the patron saint of the youth. And they have a sexual relationship—Xie with the bones and the spirit or some presence of the desecrated saint. The premise was so intriguing and very dark (I appreciate dark). But man oh man, Xie needed a little bit more direction (he is a kid after all). The ending was not surprising, but I kept thinking, okay now what? And nothing. I wanted to read between the lines, to decipher the words that meant to convey something, thus the 2-star rating. Thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read this book early.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Merritt

    extremely wild for me, since I'm normally too stuffy to even be able to get into a book that dares to italicize dialogue instead of using quotation marks, much less whatever beautiful form of narration this is so good soosososoososoosso good after reading other people reviews, I'm going to add that being a wokescold about a 15 year old character in a novel is nuts to me, and somehow taking into account whether or not his activism is like, "good enough," or if he was appropriating the name Xie is s extremely wild for me, since I'm normally too stuffy to even be able to get into a book that dares to italicize dialogue instead of using quotation marks, much less whatever beautiful form of narration this is so good soosososoososoosso good after reading other people reviews, I'm going to add that being a wokescold about a 15 year old character in a novel is nuts to me, and somehow taking into account whether or not his activism is like, "good enough," or if he was appropriating the name Xie is so missing the fucking point I'm sorry! This is a story about falling in love, and finding your values, and having an awkward car ride with your mom's boyfriend... a bildugsroman! my favorite! The fact that he is a vegan and environmental activist doesn't mean we get to start assigning stars to the book based on how pure we find this fictional character's politics. I'm sorry! I am the biggest sjw that has literally ever lived but it's a character. in a book. he's out here fucking a skeleton, and you're deducting a star because you think the teenage boy is not acknowledging his privilege enough? is anyone having fun anymore?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tracey Thompson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It took me a while to get through this novel, because it's written in a unique way. But I found that, once I got into it, it was fantastic to get caught up in the rhythm of the writing. I would not necessarily describe this as a horror novel. Although there is one specific, horrific incident at the end of the novel, and a supernatural narrative throughout, this was more a coming-of-age story. A troubled young activist, Xie, enters into an unconventional relationship, battles with his internal de It took me a while to get through this novel, because it's written in a unique way. But I found that, once I got into it, it was fantastic to get caught up in the rhythm of the writing. I would not necessarily describe this as a horror novel. Although there is one specific, horrific incident at the end of the novel, and a supernatural narrative throughout, this was more a coming-of-age story. A troubled young activist, Xie, enters into an unconventional relationship, battles with his internal demons, and awkwardly tries to change the world through (perhaps) ill-advised acts of protest. Meijer's writing is hypnotic. The Seventh Mansion is written in an unconventional way, with long paragraphs, broken sentences, all reported speech. As I mentioned earlier, this writing style can initially be intimidating, but it is very easy to get into. And the almost chaotic style reflects Xie's internal struggles very well. For fans of weird fiction, environmental fiction, and experimental fiction.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brooke Bostic

    I’m not sure i should even write a review. But i was sent a copy of the book. I attempted to read this book. I thought it was possibly a horror book. Maybe a ghost story. I wasn’t even sure. But i was sent the book in exchange for a review, and well it’s a DNF for me. I found it extremely hard to follow. There’s no quotations for dialogue which I’ve read books like that & it’s fine but this is just too hard to follow. The dialogue isn’t separated in the paragraph at all. You don’t know who is sa I’m not sure i should even write a review. But i was sent a copy of the book. I attempted to read this book. I thought it was possibly a horror book. Maybe a ghost story. I wasn’t even sure. But i was sent the book in exchange for a review, and well it’s a DNF for me. I found it extremely hard to follow. There’s no quotations for dialogue which I’ve read books like that & it’s fine but this is just too hard to follow. The dialogue isn’t separated in the paragraph at all. You don’t know who is saying what and sometimes don’t realize someone is even speaking. It’s just utterly confusing as a whole and i don’t know what’s happening. It seems to be about vegans? I just couldn’t get into it & I’m just too confused on what’s happening to continue. I appreciate the copy. Thank you! But this one just does not work for me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brittney ♡

    The Seventh Mansion This has to be one of the weirdest books I have read in quite some time; I get it was supposed to be dark, but the writing style is confusing and didn't make sense, there is a lack of punctuation that I tried to grasp and get used to but couldn't. Xie is a failed activist. He releases minks, is caught and his parents must for the loss to the farm. He robs a church of the bones of Saint Pancratius and then builds a sexual relationship with it. If you enjoy book oddities then I' The Seventh Mansion This has to be one of the weirdest books I have read in quite some time; I get it was supposed to be dark, but the writing style is confusing and didn't make sense, there is a lack of punctuation that I tried to grasp and get used to but couldn't. Xie is a failed activist. He releases minks, is caught and his parents must for the loss to the farm. He robs a church of the bones of Saint Pancratius and then builds a sexual relationship with it. If you enjoy book oddities then I'd recommend you give this a go. I'm giving a 3 star rating based off of the fact that I didn't like this book much and this might be for someone else to enjoy. Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC. All opinions are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    This is confounding- it's going to be a love or hate it read and there's no way to predict which way you will fall. Xie is a privileged 15 year old whose parents support him in his activism. He then steals the bones of a martyr (surprised to find a set of these in the US, btw) and develops a ahem relationship with them. Then a logging company comes to town and things get really wild. This is written in steam of consciousness which adds a sense of urgency (and fits with the protagonist) but which This is confounding- it's going to be a love or hate it read and there's no way to predict which way you will fall. Xie is a privileged 15 year old whose parents support him in his activism. He then steals the bones of a martyr (surprised to find a set of these in the US, btw) and develops a ahem relationship with them. Then a logging company comes to town and things get really wild. This is written in steam of consciousness which adds a sense of urgency (and fits with the protagonist) but which can also be annoying. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. A very different coming of age novel for fans of literary fiction and experimental writing.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

    You can never forget, for even a second, what it is, what it needs. Do they all deserve it, every creature of the earth, to be touched like this, fucked, loved, adorned, a stone, a sea, a fox, a tree. Can you see everything as a body that is crushed if not cared for, a body capable of ravishing and waiting to be ravished, gently, completely, by life itself.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Skip this book. Read the Overstory. Maybe I would have liked the edgy angst of this better if I had read it as a teenager, but I doubt it. This book doesn’t recognize the value of paragraphs. Decisions. A novel about spiking trees or a novel about getting off with skeleton bones? Pick one. You can’t have both. This book tries to do just that—in miserable fashion. Disappointing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brian Niemiec

    A very unconventional book very unconventually written. If you like your punctuation in the right place, stay away from this one. The description says it all. Bones of saints, ecoterrorism...it's all there. I'm sure my brain will make a connection some day. In the meantime, it was...different. A very unconventional book very unconventually written. If you like your punctuation in the right place, stay away from this one. The description says it all. Bones of saints, ecoterrorism...it's all there. I'm sure my brain will make a connection some day. In the meantime, it was...different.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kendra Plex

    I've been having a hard time with the news about the mink in Denmark. First chapter of The Seventh Mansion felt so relieving and liberating I wept for an hour. Thanks for writing it. Still have to finish the book. I've been having a hard time with the news about the mink in Denmark. First chapter of The Seventh Mansion felt so relieving and liberating I wept for an hour. Thanks for writing it. Still have to finish the book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

    Bewildering piece of eco-fiction!

  28. 4 out of 5

    sorel

    absolutely incomparable. so many bruising passages and gashes of adolescent strangeness. my only complaint is that chaffinches are not found in north america.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Zac Thompson

    Haunting and beautiful in equal measure. There are no wasted words in this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Raymond

    Closed out 2020 with this one. A little too experimental for my tastes.

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