Dodge and Burn by Seraphina Madsen Review

Kidnapped by the Machiavellian mad scientist Dr Vargas after their mother’s death in a killer bee attack, heiresses Eugenie and Camille Lund are raised in a prison of extreme wealth and psychological torture that they attempt to escape via pagan rites. As adults, they attempt to assassinate Vargas, ‘the mortal enemy of anyone committed to a magical universe in which all is spontaneous, unpredictable and alive’. Eugenie is freed from his clutches, with the unexpected consequence of Camille’s disappearance into another realm.

At a forest rave in the South of France, Eugenie falls for Benoît Del Mar, an anarchic ex-Army deep house DJ with the reflexes of Bruce Lee, who loves her for always and to the death. Later, on the run from casino Mafiosi in a psychedelic road trip across the Nevada desert, Eugenie must re-engage with the changeable borders of reality in her attempts to find her sister and finally revenge herself upon Vargas. She goes ‘deeper into magic, into the shamanic realm where everything is alive, everything has a consciousness constantly sending and receiving waves, currents and vibrations,’ though she is still haunted by the fear of pursuit and discovery. Eugenie and Benoît find aid in an unexpected quarter, as Maynard, a hunter whose ghostly figure was imprinted upon her childhood, is destined to reconnect with her in the present.

Norse mythology, Native American rites, techno-driven magic realism, the ‘jungle sensitivity’ of tribal society, cosmic synchronicity and reflections on the mutable nature of time and space are all deftly interwoven in Dodge and Burn. Madsen’s witty and original journey through multiple continents is replete with extrasensory phenomena and philosophical musings. LSD, snake venom, hemlock and copious amounts of weed take Eugenie to ‘the edge of terror and wonder’ where ‘one could go mad from one ashtray.’ Through it all, these thoroughly charming outlaws, madly in love and perhaps mad themselves, are ‘in the pursuit of masterpieces’. Madsen’s avant-garde debut is peppered with enchanting turns of phrase and her engrossing prose is as delightful as it feels effortless. Allow yourself to be transported.

Dodge And Burn by Seraphina Madsen is available through independent UK publishers Dodo Ink

Originally published in Eclectic Magazine online.