The Bellwether Revivals opens with a scene straight out of Law & Order: Two people are dead, a third is barely breathing. A small group of survivors, including narrator Oscar Lowe, wait for help to arrive. Flash back eight months, and Oscar, 20, is walking home from his job as an aide at a seniors’ retirement home in Cambridge, England, when he is drawn in by the music he hears at a church service. There he meets Iris Bellwether, a wealthy medical student, and her brother, Eden, the organist. Oscar is quickly besotted with Iris and becomes the sixth member of the Bellwethers’ university clique, a Nick Carraway– like witness to their privileged carelessness. But events take a dark and disturbing turn when Oscar comes to at a get-together one evening with a nail through his hand. It seems that Eden believes music not only can affect emotions but can also hypnotize and heal. He has succeeded, with the help of the others, in putting Oscar into a trance so deep he doesn’t feel any pain. Afterwards, Eden squeezes traumatized Oscar’s hand, the wound heals rapidly, and Eden’s God complex swells. Iris is positive her brother is descending into insanity and begs Oscar to help, but will everyone who meets Eden fall under his spell and that of his music?
Debut author Benjamin Wood creates intriguing characters and situations that are difficult to resist. The ultimate resolution of this fast-paced novel is equally mesmerizing.
The Bellwether Revivals, Benjamin Wood, $30.