Blasted took me awhile to get into, but I eventually found it very absorbing. It’s the story of a young Newfoundland woman, Ruby, living in Toronto. Ruby’s life isn’t going anywhere: she drinks too much, can’t hang onto a relationship, can’t even keep her dead-end waitressing job. When she goes back to Newfoundland, to her grandparents’ home on the South Side Road in St. John’s, for her grandmother’s funeral, the dark secrets of Ruby’s past start crawling into the foreground, and by the time she gets back to Toronto her life is further off the rails than ever.
That sounds like a straightforward synopsis for a straightforward, realistic novel, but Blasted is so much more than that. If I had to categorize it, I’d put it in the very small category of “Newfoundland magic realism” (along with Catherine Safer’s Bishop’s Road). A very twenty-first century story suddenly becomes entangled in Newfoundland fairy lore, and the root causes of Ruby’s problems — the same ones that plagued her father and her great-grandmother — isn’t at all what a twenty-first century therapist might diagnose.
There were places where I felt the pacing of the book dragged a little and lost my interest, but overall I found Ruby an interesting character and wanted to see how things would work out for her, and the fantasy/fairy element in such a gritty, realistic story really made it an interesting read.