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The King of Infinite Space


The King of Infinite Space

Lyndsay Faye is one of the most intelligent and versatile writers working today. Never before have her immense talents been on display than in the artsy, colorful and brilliant THE KING OF INFINITE SPACE. This is a modern-day retelling of William Shakespeare’s HAMLET, and the references or “Easter eggs” that allude to that masterwork are scattered throughout these pages, providing readers with a scavenger hunt of the tallest order.

Do you need to be fluent in HAMLET to enjoy this novel? No, but it would help because Faye most certainly is, and she has so many juicy tidbits to share with those who are aware of them. What sets this book apart and makes it more efficient to absorb is the Dramatis Personae list at the onset to which you will continually flip back and forth as you encounter all the many wonderful characters within these pages.

"...a scavenger hunt of the tallest order.... THE KING OF INFINITE SPACE is full of plot twists, one of which is major and will shock you."

Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different individual. The first person we meet is Lia, the ex-fiancé of our protagonist, Ben Dane. I love the opening set of lines: “Lia never knows when she’ll appear in one of Benjamin’s nightmares. But since it’s started happening, they tend to meet in the charred shell of the original World’s Stage Theatre, the smoke hanging as solid as proscenium curtains.” There is terrific imagery here, as well as the double-entendre shoutout to Shakespeare with both his famous “all the world’s a stage” quote and his reference to the Globe Theatre in London where his plays were originally performed.

Ben’s life has changed since the death of his Broadway theater baron father and the destruction of the World’s Stage Theatre, but he has learned to carry on. Carrying on, however, will include getting revenge and seeking answers to such questions as whether or not his father was murdered. Assisting him in this endeavor is his best friend and lover, Horatio Patel, who has returned from the UK to support him. Along with grieving the loss of  his father, Ben is questioning the new union of his mother, Trudy, who has shockingly married his uncle.

Inertia doesn’t stand a chance against Ben’s resolve, and he will get to the bottom of his recent family upheaval. He tries to convince Detective Fortuna to reopen his father’s case to prove that he died by homicide, not suicide. The chapters belonging to Lia are a refreshing break as we get to see her working at the floral boutique run by an extremely weird trio of sisters: Mam’zelle, Moma and Maw-maw (extra points to those who recognize the reference to the three witches from Shakespeare). These sections continually zero in on various types of flowers and a definition of what they represent. There is enough symbolism here to keep your mind spinning for hours.

Other bits of symbolic reference include the annoying Marlowe twins with whom Ben went to Columbia University. Many people may not be aware of the old rumors that Shakespeare was not responsible for writing any of his own work, and that it was the product of one of his contemporaries, Christopher Marlowe. Touché, Ms. Faye! Another character with whom Ben and Horatio interact is the wormy little Robin Goodfellow, named appropriately for the narrator of Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.

THE KING OF INFINITE SPACE is full of plot twists, one of which is major and will shock you. As the narrative moves forward, I enjoyed the creative liberties that Lyndsay Faye took, as each chapter gets increasingly colorful with fonts, style and the physical appearance of the story. This technique stretches the boundaries of what we usually expect from a novel and keeps the proceedings fun and quirky throughout.

Will Ben get all of his questions answered? The quick and dirty reply is that it doesn’t really matter. I believe that the author’s intention here is for readers to enjoy the journey rather than focus on the destination, and the result is a novel that will be difficult to put down until you’ve reached the end. Bravo, Ms. Faye!

Reviewed by Ray Palen on August 13, 2021

The King of Infinite Space
by Lyndsay Faye

  • Publication Date: September 6, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Magical Realism
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0525535918
  • ISBN-13: 9780525535911