Lead Review (The Space Between Us)

  • Book: The Space Between Us
  • Location: Edinburgh, Scottish Highlands
  • Author: Doug Johnstone

Review Author: Tina Hartas



A #BetweenTheCovers Book Club pick – on BBC2 this Spring (2023)

One evening a meteor streaks across the sky above Edinburgh and that same night sixteen stroke cases are admitted to the REI (hospital). They are all suffering from the same form – to wit haemorrhagic – stroke, all in the cerebellum. This is an utterly incomprehensible, impossible number of patients suffering from exactly the same thing.  Eight die and of the eight who survive, three go on immediately to have a clean bill of health, no traces of the stroke, no lasting damage. The three are a middle-aged woman (Heather), a pregnant woman (Ava) and a gangly kid with an Afro (Lennox). They each have to had cope with difficulties in their lives up until this point but here they are, now thrown together.

Coincidentally (or is it coincidental?) on a beach in East Lothian, a cephalopod washes up, but it is a curious, hitherto unknown species. It seems dead and the authorities gear up to remove it and it is Lennox who has a sense that it is not dead, but here to inform, and as such needs rescuing and taking care of.

Ewan is an intrepid reporter who has latched on to the story of the three, a potentially huge story and he is soon in hot pursuit.

This is a caper that is as absurd as it is entertaining, with beautifully created characters, including a sensitive and intuitive cephalopod. At the heart are some serious social issues that intersect with the more humorous and fantastical side of the story and the combination makes for such an unusual and surprisingly gripping read.

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