The End of Mr. Y starts slowly, although with a hint of weirdness. Ariel Manto, the narrator of the book, a PhD student in literature, finds a copy of a very rare Victorian book: so rare that there is one known copy of it in the whole world (in a bank vault in Germany). That book, also titled The End of Mr. Y, is special because it is said to have a curse: anyone who reads it soon ends up dead.

I almost thought that this book might turn into an intellectual, slightly bookish work, a bit like Paul Auster perhaps. Books about books, with some thought experiments and philosophy about the nature of reality thrown in. How very wrong I was.

Once the story starts rolling, it soon picks up speed and energy very quickly. In a short while it’s positively racing along, with sex, love, homeopathy, sharing consciousness with a mouse, and being chased by mysterious violent goons. Ariel starts to realize that the curse might be very real. And then it goes on from there.

It’s a weird book, hard to pin down to any one category (which is almost always a good sign). A fantastical philosophical thriller perhaps? As befits a good thriller, the plot is tight and gripping – the kind of book you don’t want to put down because you need to know how the protagonist could possibly survive. But there are also wild thought experiments, deconstructivist musings on the nature of reality, language and fiction (which I didn’t pay as much as attention to as they deserved, since there was too much suspense).

Thomas also shows a good sense of humour, and creates good characters: very realistic, flawed but easy to sympathize with. Foremost among them is Ariel herself: intelligent, lonely, poor, obsessive, disconnected from the people around her.

It almost feels churlish to voice any complaints about such an ambitious, interesting, compelling, enjoyable book. But I did find the ending disappointingly weak, and Ariel’s emotional disengagement from the world occasionally made it hard to care about her as a person. Like another reviewer, my fondest and strongest memories from this book are of the mice whose consciousness Ariel visits – both the free city mice in the beginning and the laboratory mice in the end. Those are the scenes with the most emotion and the least Derrida in them.

As usual with this kind of wild suspenseful doesn’t-fit-into-any-mould kind of book, I’d recommend you to not read any reviews before reading the book: almost all have far too many spoilers. (The only one you can safely read is this Salon review.) Just trust me and buy the book.

Amazon UK, Amazon US.