This is a wickedly funny and delightfully wicked book. Some books are devilish to a certain degree and there’s a weird kind of gray area in the scale of how wicked a book can be. Not wicked enough creates a kind of false sentimentality and too wicked makes it feels mean or cruel or out of balance. What this book does is NOT hit the right middle. Instead, this book goes for it and really goes for it. It’s so wicked and cruel and clever and mean that it goes beyond the ability to actually cause harm and turns into a kind of cartoonish wonderful level of wickedness.
So the story here, is that there isn’t really one. It’s about a household that is controlled by an absolute petit tyrant controlling his servants, his children, his wife, his cousin, and plenty of others around him. He’s micromanaging, he’s imperious, and he’s officious. And this creates a clear tone around the house and turns every exchange into, not an interaction between victim and tyrant, but between power and power and how that power can be manipulated and maneuvered.
So rather than watch someone simply be imperious, we have a constant grappling for power and control over every moment in this novel. The novel itself has events, but no one and nothing is changing as a consequence. Instead we have a play that is happening and we are privy to it. There are constant, little, and hilarious exchanges and interactions throughout.