Two White Queens and the One-Eyed Jack

book coverBy Heidi von Palleske

** Publication Date 9 March 2021 **

4 stars

This is a story about accidents and destiny. How accidental things happen in our lives that perhaps set a course for our future that was possibly predetermined. It has been described as a Gothic novel, but I didn’t find all that much Goth in it. I found a group of individuals whose lives were permanently intertwined by fate. 

Jack and Gareth are best friends. They are typical boys roughhousing and outdoor creatures. Until the day that Gareth prods Jack to climb a tree just a bit higher. A bit too high, because Jack falls. The bushes that break his fall, also permanently damage his eye. Which is how he becomes the one-eyed Jack.

As a child, while visiting the optometrist with his older brother Tristan, Gareth spies twins in the waiting room that spark his imagination. They are albino, white hair, white skin, pink eyes like rabbits. He is fascinated by these unusual girls, and they occupy his thoughts for many years to come, even though he never encounters them again.

Gareth doesn’t really ever recover from the accident, believing that if he hadn’t prodded Jack, it wouldn’t have happened. He expresses his guilt in his art. Jack, is fitted with a prosthetic eye, but in America these eyes are made of acrylic, which irritates Jack’s eye socket. His mother, Hilda, remembers a young man who lived in her house when she was young. He was an ocularist, or a person who makes prosthetic eyes out of glass, each one a custom piece for the wearer. Hilda decides to take Jack back to Germany to find this ocularist.

Each of these actions and experiences changes each of the characters in one way or another. Their lives become even more connected and allow them to become the adults they were meant to be. The novel is beautifully written with lyrical prose and vivid descriptions. Not a quick read, but more one to be contemplated. It is a lovely novel.

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