Many thanks to Penguin Books for giving me this review copy via NetGalley!
I really am not sure what I expected from this book going in, but I was really not engaged by this book. I guess I was hoping for some good Canadiana infused with a bit of magical realism. However, in the end I found A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain to be confusing and unsatisfying.
The prose is really lovely. That is all that kept me going through the book, the fact that the prose reads like poetry. It is technically accurate and has a flow that I haven’t seen many other places. Where this book lacked, though, was in characters and plot.
I feel like there were far too many characters in A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain. At under 300 pages, I would expect the story to focus on three or four main characters. However, there are at least three or four times that who each get a moment in the spotlight to tell their own stories. It made for a very chaotic story, and I didn’t really feel connected to any of the characters, though I really wanted to be.
As I mentioned already, the plot of A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain is quite chaotic and confusing. At the end of the book I put it down and said out loud “I am not entirely sure what I just read”. While the synopsis on NetGalley led me to believe I would be reading about the Highway of Angels, that highway is never mentioned by name or number. The city of the setting is never mentioned, except abstractly. I spent more time trying to work out where the book was actually set than I did enjoying the story.
A lot of the plot revolves around the idea that the devil has come to town. Literally. But it isn’t just one devil (another instance where there are far too many characters). This had the potential to be a really great way to tell the story, but in the end it was just way too convoluted and twisted. There were a few glimmers where we actually got to see the weaving of the “devil’s” ways, and those were some of my favorite parts of the book.
The majority of characters in A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain are either Aboriginal or of mixed race. This was one of the big draws for me to request the book in the first place, as the whole #WeNeedDiverseBooks thing has got me really trying to find diversity in books. However, both of the “devils” in the story are white. There is diversity in books, and then there is racism. And this is racism. The bad guys were the only white people featured in any capacity in the book. Others are mentioned in passing, usually exhibiting traits of racism themselves, which is something I find really interesting as well. I will not argue that there is a severe problem of racism against First Nations peoples in Canada. But to then turn around and be racist against white people is not the answer. As my mom always said, two wrongs don’t make a right. And she is a pretty smart lady, my mom.
Bottom Line: So much potential, but a bloated cast and a chaotic plot made this a less than enjoyable read for me.