Genre Fake-Out

A genre fake-out is, A Reader’s Respite has decided, what happens when a novel appears to fall into one genre, but then pulls the old switch-a-roo on the reader and morphs into an entirely different genre.

Now sometimes this is unintentional on the author’s part and those genre-morphing books generally don’t work out so great.  The effect is confusing at best and irritating at worst.

But every once in a while, an author sets out to surprise the reader and the effect is pretty brilliant.

the raising

Take Laura Kasischke’s new novel, The Raising.  When the reader first delves into this character-rich novel about a young college man who has lost his girlfriend in a car accident, you immediately assume this is a literary fiction young-man-deals-with-grief novel.

But as we learn more and more about the characters, mostly in sharply written flashbacks, it becomes apparent that this literary fiction is wrapped in a good mystery.  Questions arise: what part did this young man play in his girlfriends death?  Is he as culpable as everyone on campus seems to think he is?  What really happened out there on that desolate road that fateful night?

But wait, our literary-fiction-wrapped-in-mystery turns out to have shades of a ghost story.  Is our young man haunted by his lost love?  Are there other ghosts that roam the campus?

And just as the reader becomes fairly obsessed with this plot, we’re hit with the finale of a thriller.  Is anything really as it seems? Who’s the next victim?

That’s right….what we have here, folks, is literary fiction, wrapped in a mystery, touched by a ghost story and tied up in a thriller.

Kasischke hits a home run with The Raising.  The pacing and tension is near perfect and the layers are so subtle, you don’t see even see them until they are peeled away.  And while we refuse to give away more of the plot than we already have, we will tell you that this is one novel worth your hard-earned book spending money (or at the very least, a trip to the library!).

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