Book Review – The Jigsaw Woman by Kim Antieau

Title: The Jigsaw Woman
Author: Kim Antieau
Format: Paperback
Written: 1996
Published: 1997

The Jigsaw Woman is such a complicated book that I don’t know where to begin. At first it appears to be a modern retelling of Frankenstein, but it quickly morphs into something so intricate that the Frankenstein aspect becomes a subplot. This book is so rich with mythology that I almost want to describe it as Pagan fiction. It’s the type of book where you have to pay attention to every page or risk missing critical details as the main character spirals through past lives and recurring evil.

Keelie wakes up on an operating table, born into an adult body that has been pieced together using three dead women. She tries to make sense of the meaning of her life and her creation. Her existence is immediately fragmented, and she begins a quest to understand the pieces. As the memories of her lives before her deaths begin to surface, she learns how her component parts came to die. Her perception of the world begins to shift, and she is plunged deeper into the memories of her own past lives, stretching from the Amazons to prehistory and back again.

For any writers out there, it is incredibly depressing to realise that this is Antieau’s first novel.

One of the things that is striking about this book is the strength of the characters. In most novels there are well-developed male characters, or well-developed female characters. This novel has both. It is a story about women’s magic, men’s fear, and the identity crisis that both genders face. I could describe it as brilliant feminist literature, but I think it transcends that to become a story about people, life and death.

This novel feels like a call to arms. The research that has gone into it is detailed, and draws on a lot of obscure material. I would describe this as Pagan fiction because the connections to the Neo-Pagan movement are strong, down to the wording of particular blessings and philosophies. They are woven into the narrative with an ease that is breathtaking, and form such a strong core that it is difficult to imagine any other world view existing.

For readers who are not interested in philosophy and the subtext, the book is still a dramatic tale filled with mystery, abuse and death. It is dark fantasy at its best. The twists are surprising, and each turn brings new suspense. This is the type of book that I need to read in a single day, because there is no way I would be able to sleep at the end of a chapter. It is also a book that has excellent rereading value. I give it 5 out of 5 pages.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Mandi M. Lynch, author
    Dec 18, 2012 @ 07:25:13

    As if I don’t already have enough on my TBR list. *writes title down…*


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