The title as written on the cover is “PERfunctory AfFECTION” because it’s all about “perfection.” The reality of perfection. The truth and falsity of perfection. How nothing “normal” is perfect. If it seems perfect, it isn’t. Perfection can’t be in our world so that which seems perfect contains a lie.
Humanity, people are imperfect. Maybe somewhere in a parallel universe, perfection may exist, but we aren’t living there. We may strive for it, live and die for it. We will never attain it.
In the Hindu dynasty of gods and godlike figures, if you achieve perfection, you became a god whose job it is to help others attain perfection. Religion can urge you to seek perfection, but everyone knows it isn’t possible. Thus any who achieve it become gods.
If you read “The Hollows” series, this isn’t it. This is a different Kim Harrison. Still a brilliant author, she is treading in places where waters run deep.
Meg had a terrible accident during which her boyfriend was severely injured. He is still in her life and his presence haunts her, drags her down. He is not helping her move forward in her life. She remains afraid of “the world” and the people she meets, yet she is in love with her art.
Thus despite her sense of isolation and fear of many things both real and imaginary, she is an inspiring painter who packs her classroom at the university where she works. She has developed a style where her paintings are incomplete but suggest completeness. She can find the exact amount to paint which allow viewers to sense and feel what else should be in the picture.
In many ways, the book is like those pictures leaving you mentally filling in spaces, taking your best guess based on suggestions and ideas or partial conversations. The book has a quiet start that continues to build, fill out, become more complete — and suggests that Meg is seeing reality and no one else is — or everyone else is seeing reality and Meg is not.
Is she meant to be perfect, part of a magic universe? Is it a dream or a nightmare? Possibly both? The interweaving of reality, truth, lies, uncertainty, imagination and something otherworldly is complex and fascinating.
Rather than spoil anyone’s read, I want to say this is a book you should read to the end. You cannot omit a chapter or even a few pages. Secrets, hints, images are waiting for you. What you were sure you knew you may soon discover you didn’t know.
It is a beautifully written book. Intense, sensitive, and passionate. At the conclusion, you will be asking yourself many questions. A second reading perhaps?
It’s difficult to describe the story without using spoilers, so I’ll quit before I ruin it for you. This is a unique, stirring tale that leaves you wanting more.
“Perfunctory Affection” will be released on March 31st and I’ve pre-ordered the hardcover. It is available for pre-order on Amazon in hardcover and as an audio CD. I believe other stores are also offering it. I’m sure a paperback will be released at some future point and hopefully, it will also come out on Kindle.