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The Miracle Inspector: A Dystopian Novel Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Length: 254 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Review

The Miracle Inspector is one of the few novels that everyone should read, it's a powerful novel that's masterfully written and subtly complex. SciFi and Fantasy Books

In its feminist angle, The Miracle Inspector is reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Smith has an extraordinarily rich imagination that never fails to surprise and delight. Huffpost Books.

Helen Smith crafts a story like she's the British lovechild of Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick, only with a feminist slant. Journal of Always Reviews

One of the finest novels of its genre. For Books' Sake

The Miracle Inspector is a dark dystopian novel, full of twists and turns that has the reader guessing and waiting in anticipation to see what happens next. Bella Online

Chosen as a "best book of the year" by For Books' Sake and The Cult Den.

About the Author

Helen Smith is a British novelist and playwright who lives in London. She is a member of the Crime Writers' Association and the Mystery Writers of America. Her books have reached number one on Amazon in the US, UK, Germany and Canada and appeared in "best of the year" lists at For Books' Sake, The Cult Den, The Independent, and the Guardian. Helen Smith reached the top spot as America's most popular mystery author in July 2013. Her work has been optioned for development by the BBC.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1004 KB
  • Print Length: 254 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Tyger Books (11 Dec. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003MGK8V0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #164,991 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Helen Smith is a novelist and playwright who lives in London. Her books have reached number one on Amazon's bestseller lists in the US, UK, Canada and Germany. They have been praised in The Times, The Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, Time Out and Wired.com and appeared on "best of the year" lists in For Books' Sake, The Cult Den, The Independent and the Guardian. Her books have been optioned by the BBC.

Helen Smith travelled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both - from cleaning motels to working as a magician's assistant - before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel. Since then, she has read at literary events and festivals in London and New York and points in between - including, most recently, a cruise ship en route to California via the Suez Canal. Her work has been read or performed at the National Theatre, The Royal Festival Hall, the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, Amnesty International's Headquarters, The Edinburgh Festival and The University of London. She's a Literary Death Match champion and the recipient of an Arts Council of England award.

Helen Smith is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, The Crime Writers' Association and English PEN.

"Smith is gin-and-tonic funny." Booklist

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
If Patricia Highsmith wrote dystopian fiction but had more of a sense of humor, it might be something like The Miracle Inspector. The book opens in an England of the near future that's been partitioned and in decay. London proper seems to have the worst of it, walled off and Taliban-like in its social clampdown. Women can't leave the home. The Arts are off-limits. Men work meaningless bureaucratic jobs that only serve the faceless authority that keeps them all locked in, both socially and interpersonally. The book focuses on one couple, Lucas and Angela, who think they once loved each other but are really just strangers passing each other constantly. An aging and legendary underground poet, Jesmond, fuels their secret needs to escape to that sought-after heaven, Cornwall. They're all not especially likable, but they're always a little more so than those around them, chipping away at them. It works.

The saddest part might not be that they can't have what they want, but rather that they don't truly know what they'd want if they could have it.

I mention Patricia Highsmith because Smith deftly works in the dark urges and fears of Lucas, Angela and others in a way that only psychological mystery and espionage writers like Highsmith and Graham Greene do well. The story manages to remind of 1984, Brazil, Children of Men, The Road and other noirish dystopian tales yet manages to be original, partially through the dark and often subtle humor. Yes, I'm mixing films with books here, because I think this would make a good film script.

If I could give this 4.5 stars I would, but as we know we have to choose between 4s and 5s. I would have like to have had more setup and background about how England became this way, but that's also a product of me liking the story enough.

I'll be reading more from this author.
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Format: Kindle Edition
What's your favourite cause of dystopian society? Nuclear apocalypse? Viral pandemic? Economic crash and burn? The London of this book has contrived to put itself under a dystopian yoke through democracy! Entrusted with power, the people have demonstrated either apathy or irony in their chocies. Consequently London has saddled itself with a mad self-aggrandising bureaucracy of nonsensical jobs, such as Lucas' Inspector Of Miracles. Though there is a vague unstated threat of worldwide terrorism, more local threats of rapists and paedophiles at large, have led to women being prohibited from work, having no political rights, are being largely confined to the house and having to wear burka-like garments when outside in public.

Art too falls foul of this regime, since art offers outlets for protest and politicisation. In a world without art there is a diminished notion of love. The novel's husband and wife main characters struggle across the kitchen table to communicate to one another, let alone approach any notion of love. They cast their fantasies and desires outside of their shared house. Angela although she doesn't understand the concept, wants to be a poet's muse. Her mind flies with some love letters she's been entrusted with which like her, dream of escape beyond London. Lucas visits the wife of his security chief who has been under surveillance so that Lucas wants to put flesh on the fantasy figure he has been a witness to on screen. In the flesh however, she is covered up behind her burka-like raiment. In his job as the official investigator into claims of miracles, he becomes attached to a mute girl who only communicates by smiling.
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Format: Paperback
In The Miracle Inspector, I guess we are about 50 years in the future, in London, England. Women can't work outside the home and cannot go anywhere except to the shops and to family (there is an official at the Ministry to check out people's family relationships to make sure women are really visiting relations and not strangers or friends).

Lucas has a good job at the Ministry as a miracle inspector. When a miracle is being reported, he goes to check it out. So far, no genuine miracles have been found, although the public do their best to make up their own miracles (the face of the Virgin Mary in a flan, etc.).
Lucas is a well-off man, with his own car, a rarity in London, and a nice house. His wife is Angela, a clever woman, but stuck to a boring life at their home. The couple make plans to escape to Cornwall, where they would be free, but they need passes to get there. Their attempt to escape London lead to serious consequences for Lucas and Angela.

This book reminded me of The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood) to start with, because of the restrictions to women. These were society's restrictions, and within their marriage, Lucas didn't feel it was right that a woman like Angela had to spend all her time at home. On the other hand, he was a product of his society, so I didn't feel completely comfortable with the way he thought about their situation.
Later on, the book had some elements of The Carhullan Army (Sarah Hall). But while there were similarities with that book and with The Handmaid's Tale,
The Miracle Inspector was definitely a unique book in its own right.

I loved how the society's rules were made up by the people themselves. At some point, people were allowed to make the laws and some very odd regulations followed.
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