The Possession of Mr Cave by Matt Haig - review by Philip Womack

Philip Womack

Malign Spirits

The Possession of Mr Cave


Jonathan Cape 244pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Terence Cave, the snobbish, wannabe aesthete at the centre of this troubling, compulsive novel, has dealt with the suicide of his mother and the murder of his wife; and he has watched his son Reuben fall, fatally, from a lamppost as his supposed friends look on, yelling in encouragement. Now all he has left is his daughter Bryony, a cello-playing, pony-loving ‘dream of a child’ where Reuben was ‘the dark sleep I could never comprehend’.

The novel takes the form of an extended letter to Bryony: ‘when you read this account you will look behind what I have done and a kind of truth will emerge’. As such, the intimacy creates a clotted, overwhelming claustrophobia, which captures exactly (and aptly) the feeling that an adolescent

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter