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Halloween with Reinheit

Nicholas Conley

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Just in time for the most haunted holiday of the year, I recently finished reading Thomas S. Flower’s rather intense new novel, Reinheit.


Flowers’ Reinheit—which in English translates to purity, or cleanness—is the story of a schoolteacher who blows her budget on an expensive armchair, hoping that the present will ease the tension between her and her hideously abusive husband.  The gesture goes badly, but the husband’s rage soon gives way to morbid obsession; the chair, as it turns out, is merely the external form of a deeply malevolent, potentially sentient evil. Throughout the course of the novel, Reinheit flashes back and forth between the present and the past, as the armchair’s unsettling effect on human history is revealed piece by piece.  Political, social and humanitarian issues are deeply woven into the storyline, presenting a horrifying menace that is both supernatural—and at the same time, all…

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