Undermajordomo Minor Book Review

Whilst I’ve been away at uni and regrettably neglecting my blog I little bit, I have written a few book reviews for our student website. So, now, I wish to share them with you. To start off I have a review of Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt.


A lost soul finds a temporary place for his feet, shuffling around the darkening rooms of the Castle Von Aux, and a permanent place for his heart, in the clasp of a beautiful, yet troubled local girl. Undermajordomo Minor is the most recent novel from the award-winning author, Patrick deWitt. A story of odd occurrences and ingenious humour, with a rapidly beating (slightly blackened) heart at its centre.

Lucien (Lucy) Minor becomes the undermajordomo (that is, the assistant to the assistant) at a huge gothic castle. The boy, young in years and naively curious about the world, leaves his home town for the first time with nothing more than his trusty valise and a smoking pipe he has no idea how to use. He arrives in Listen, a strange town of strangers, with the hopes of finding a life for himself. But, the castle contains many a mystifying secret along with many unusual individuals. Will Lucy find his place or merely be caught up in the struggles of an ancient household?

Life was not such a trial after all, he mused. It wasn’t east, but then, how dull an experience it would be if it were so – 26.

Despite being a compulsive liar, Lucy turns out to be a likable character. He may be a little selfish, but he is young and still living the years when every mistake is a lesson. He becomes part of a small family of staff at the castle, the development of which is pleasing to read. As Lucy learns more about the current circumstances of life at the castle, his regard for his fellow employee’s rises to new heights. Things are not at all as they appear.

The towering castle turrets, frightful happenings in the dead of night, bloodthirsty battles just outside the front door and The Very Large Hole (which is indeed “very, very large”), Undermajordomo Minor is fantastically gothic. As well as drawing upon many conventions of gothic literature, it is also a love story. Lucy meets Klara, a more than welcome escape from the horrors of the castle, and they fall in love. However, they must fight for what they have, for it struggles to stay alive in a place which seems to eradicate the glimmer of light from within happy eyes.

This is how it happened that his heart was so superbly broken – 270.

Several other couples are also introduced and, through instances of violence, manipulation and blatant adultery, the twisted lives of the Baron and Baroness are revealed. Although, these revelations throw a little light onto the edgy temperament of the castle’s owners, they also allow yet more shadows to emerge. Lucy’s young mind doesn’t always know what to make of the castle’s inhabitants and guests, but he never drops his eloquent manner of a sophisticated boy who wants to become a man.

Admittedly, there were times when I didn’t think this novel could get any stranger. However, it is a good mix of humour, romance and just pure originality, amongst more familiar elements of the gothic. It is very much about human behaviour and how life can change us.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Please let me know in the comments whether you have read this book and, if so, what you thought.

Lots of Love,

Laura x


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