Early Review | The Spoonbenders – Daryl Gregory

About the Book

A generations-spanning family of psychics–both blessed and burdened by their abilities–must use their powers to save themselves from the CIA, the local mafia, and a skeptic hell-bent on discrediting them in this hilarious, tender, magical novel about the invisible forces that bind us.

The Telemachus family is known for performing inexplicable feats on talk shows and late-night television. Teddy, a master conman, heads up a clan who possess gifts he only fakes: there’s Maureen, who can astral project; Irene, the human lie detector; Frankie, gifted with telekinesis; and Buddy, the clairvoyant. But when, one night, the magic fails to materialize, the family withdraws to Chicago where they live in shame for years. Until: As they find themselves facing a troika of threats (CIA, mafia, unrelenting skeptic), Matty, grandson of the family patriarch, discovers a bit of the old Telemachus magic in himself. Now, they must put past obstacles behind them and unite like never before. But will it be enough to bring The Amazing Telemachus Family back to its amazing life?

416 pages (hardcover)
Expected publication on June 27, 2017
Author’s webpage
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This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

I am a huge fan of Daryl Gregory. Each book of his seems to be better than the last, and I just love how he has this uncanny ability to get into the mind and psyche of the characters he creates. His worlds are interesting, but Gregory’s real skill rests with his character development.

The Spoonbenders is a novel that I was thrilled to get, and I devoured it while I was recovering from surgery these past few weeks. It’s different than his other books. This one focuses on the Telemachus family, a family who is basically known for their psychic and otherworldly abilities and performing said abilities on talk shows and the like.

Each chapter focuses on a different member of the family, and their experiences. They dip a bit into the family history and experiences, and then move forward in the current events that are absorbing each of the characters. It’s interesting how Gregory does this, drawing the reader in by using each character’s story to do so. This paints an interesting and broad picture of the Telemachus family, and their relationships, but it also shows how their past is directly impacting their present.

The other thing I loved was how Gregory managed to keep me rather agnostic about the Telemacus family’s various otherworldly abilities. Sometimes I thought, “Wow, these guys are for real!” and other times I’d be thinking, “what ingenious little scam artists.” Vacillating on that point, the back and forth of it, was a lot of fun and part of what made this book so damn interesting. I’d love to know what kind of research Gregory did to develop these characters.

The Spoonbenders isn’t all just focused on personal stories and experiences. Very soon after the book starts a series of unfortunate and mysterious events take place and soon this family is ensnared in a group of threats that can easily overwhelm them. Gregory pins his readers between a gripping vision of an interesting (and colorful) past, and a fractured, rootless present and these family members need to navigate both to make it through.

In its heart, The Spoonbenders, in my mind, is a lot about relationship – love of family, love of self, and how people can be stronger together if they make up their minds to be that way. Family never dies, and the strong ties that bind are both strained and strengthened throughout the novel. It’s a book that is quirky and colorful, but also shockingly intimate and just as gripping on the personal level as on the overarching mystery/threat level.

The Spoonbenders moves at a very quick pace. Before I really realized what I was doing, I had already read the entire book – it was that absorbing. It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and that’s a good thing. Gregory’s ability to flawlessly navigate a plot on an intimate and larger scope so flawlessly really takes this book from interesting and fun, to something else altogether.

To sum this diatribe up, The Spoonbenders was a home run for me. Daryl Gregory continues to dazzle me with his imagination, talent, and his stunning character development. If you’re looking toward reading something a bit off the beaten path, maybe a bit more intimate and far different than you’re used to, then give this one a whirl. You will not be disappointed.

Highly recommended. Gregory continues to be one of my favorite authors, and this book is a perfect example as to why.


5/5 stars


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