My bookish epiphany of the year: Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus #bookreview #EpiphanyJones #Orentober

Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking among the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.

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Hi and welcome to my review of Epiphany Jones! At this point there’s only one thing I want to know: why the hell did it take me so long to read this?!

Epiphany Jones is one of Orenda’s earlier publications, back in 2016. I was more of a “convenience” reader back then, I had few favourite authors whose books I actively sought out, I mostly went to bookstores and the library and just picked up whatever tickled my fancy. I only became an Orenda fan a few years later upon discovering bookish Twitter, and I only became aware of Epiphany Jones as late as last #Orentober, when Karen Cole reshared her review (ICYMI). I bought a copy right there and then but of course it took me another few months to actually read it (so many books, so little time, you know the drill, and being a total magpie a.k.a. signing up for too many blog tours doesn’t help matters either).

I’m kicking myself for not reading it earlier, I really am.

Epiphany Jones is… a masterpiece that has rendered me quite speechless, if the amount of time I just spent with my fingers hovering above the keyboard trying to find words other than WOW is anything to go by. I read a lot, I have never encountered anything like Epiphany Jones.

Jerry is a young man, working a job he hates, taking antiabortion pills to keep his hallucinations at bay, and wanking the day away – pardon my French. Bear with me, don’t walk away now! The first part of the book basically establishes Jerry as the King of masturbation, as he cums all over Photoshopped images of celebrities. Even when a co-worker has been murdered and Jerry is wanted by the police for the murder and stealing an invaluable Van Gogh painting, sex is on his mind. But I had fun with that part of the book! It was different, it was darkly humorous, although I do have to admit I spent more than a couple of chapters wondering how on earth this book had got past Karen Sullivan and her red pen!

And then suddenly playtime is over as the narrative takes a turn for the harrowing and the brutal. Getting glimpses of Jerry’s past, he became a real person and I began to understand where his compulsions had come from and I started rooting for him, wanting, needing even, for him to be okay. And then there’s Epiphany. Raven-haired, pale, mysterious, the-Bride-meets-Lisbeth-Salander Epiphany, whose motives become clear as her past is revealed – What? No! Just something in my eye, never mind.

Epiphany and the voices she hears are on a quest, and Jerry becomes her unlikely and mostly unwilling companion, save for that brief spell of Stockholm Syndrome. It’s a violent quest, it’s a brutal quest, and if you have any triggers you may want to steer clear of this one. But I loved it. I can’t honestly say I always enjoyed it, there are some passages that shocked me, made me breathe out slowly as tears filled my eyes, made me tell myself it’s not real, it’s fiction and it is, except that it isn’t cos the people that fill the pages of Epiphany Jones, the ones who think they rule the world and can do anything they want to because they have money, the ones who hurt and beat and rape and maim and kill for profits and for power, they are real.

Violent and brutal but purposefully so, and somehow very realistic, that’s Epiphany Jones, and that’s what made it hard to read sometimes. I was glad for the pitch-black humour and the sarcasm, the twists and the suspense that allowed me to believe for a little while at least that it was mere entertainment.

Epiphany Jones is… everything. It made me grin, it made me cry, it made me cringe, it made me angry, it made me physically recoil, it had me captivated throughout, and I still haven’t recovered. A phenomenal read and definitely one of my books of the year, if not decade.

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