As a child, Luke’s mother often tells him the story of the Dumb House, an experiment on newborn babies raised in silence, designed to test the innateness of language. As Luke grows up, his interest in language and the delicate balance of life and death leads to amateur dissections of small animals – tiny hearts revealed still pumping, as life trickles away. But as an adult, following the death of his mother, Luke’s obsession deepens, resulting in a haunting and bizarre experiment on Luke’s own children.
A wonderfully disturbing book - chillingly focused and lyrically amoral with moments of remarkable stillness and beauty. A poetic novel in the best and most troubling sense
Burnside's prose is exquisite and he dissects his themes with delicacy to produce a novel resonant with poetic menace
An exceptionally sinister book... It is the story of Luke, whose experiments into the nature of human language are recounted with all the beguiling reasonableness of the highly intelligent madman... The horror is tempered and fine-tuned by the exceptional beauty of Burnside's writing... In Luke, Burnside has produced one of the most chilling voices in recent fiction
My favourite book of the year