Blog Tour: Malibu Burns, Mark Richardson

Book Review: Malibu Burns, Mark Richardson


Malibu Burns, Mark Richardson

Fiction: Malibu Burns, Mark Richardson

Blog Tour December 30, 2022


Malibu Burns is a strange, sometimes confusing novel. Set in a not far future San Francisco it tells of a young woman, Malibu Makimura, a young woman with a strange ability. She is able to read the mind of her father. She can often read the emotions of others, but her connection to her father is the only one that provides absolute clarity to his thoughts, even the things he sees through his eyes. 


Although this fact gives some impetus to the story, it is almost a side note to the experiences Malibu has in San Francisco. She is estranged from her father and whether for physical or personal distance can no longer read his thoughts. Malibu works as a sketch artist, lives in an apartment above a porn theater, and mostly keeps to herself. She had spent time being homeless and doesn’t want to do that again. She had spent time in a psych ward and doesn’t want to go there again. So she keeps her talents quiet, watches old movies, and survives.


One day she is approached in the bar where she sketches patrons and is invited to see a woman about a job. A strange, unique, and unexpected job. One that uses her unique talents in a new way, one that may (or may not) connect her with alternate universes, one that takes her into some very dangerous territory. I’ll stop there to avoid spoilers, but I will say that this strange novel takes some even stranger turns the rest of the way.


I have not read Mark Richardson before so I can’t put this in context with his other books. Curiously, it reminded me a lot of books by Jeff Vandermeer. They are not particularly similar, in that Vandermeer’s worlds are a funhouse-mirror version of the natural world and this book is set in downtown San Francisco. But Richardson also shows us a world through a distorted lens. We can’t be certain that what we are seeing is what we are seeing. Is Malibu psychically gifted, or is she insane? Is the woman offering her the job a manipulator or a victim? Does Malibu control her own destiny and make her own choices, or is some external or internal force compelling her to do what she does? 


By the end of the novel, none of these things are entirely clear. What is clear is that Richardson tells a multilayered story that keeps you guessing, that is unafraid to leave things unanswered at the end, to accept that Malibu’s tale began before we arrived and continues without us once we have left. If you want everything tied up in a pretty ribbon at the end of the story, this is not the right book for you. But if you want a book that is going to make you think, to wonder, to question what is real and what is illusion, Richardson offers an excellent choice.


Our thanks to Dave at The Write Reads for our copy of Malibu Burns, provided so we could give an honest review. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.


Malibu Burns, Mark Richardson

Book Review: Malibu Burns, Mark Richardson

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