Mr Splitfoot is a story out of time.
Full of freaks and weirdos and con men and cults it feels like a distinctly Depression-era American gothic, like HBO’s dark dustbowl drama Carnivale.
But it’s actually set in the modern era, it’s sinister cast and creepy imagery jutting up against smartphones and urban sprawl. It makes for a strange and unique novel that mostly works.
The book tells two concurrent stories centred around scarred orphan Ruth.
In the recent past, Ruth is a teenager joined at the hip with fellow troubled child Nat, who can channel the dead. They come under the sway of Mr Bell, a con man with enemies.
In the present day, Ruth – now mute – reappears after a long absence to lead her pregnant niece Cora on an epic walk into the heart of darkness to unpick the secrets of the past.
The writing is vivid and the plot peculiar and unpredictable.
Ultimately the atmosphere proves more compelling than the story but this is still a worthwhile read.
Next: a trip to China