“After all… we easily believe what we ardently desire to be true”
Before I begin this review, I have a confession to make – I know Alice Turing. This makes it impossible to read her book without imbuing it with her voice, mannerisms and immense flair. The first time I met this woman was at a festival, whereupon she produced all the requisite parts of a tequila slammer from the pockets of a voluminous furry coat. For this, she deserves my undying respect.
So it’s only fitting that Dance Your Way to Psychic Sex is an energetic riot of a book, packed with mind-bending mentalism, New Age nonsense and cross-gender bed-hopping. The heroine of the story is Henrietta – an obsessive single mum with a desperate need to belong. Starting a new life in Hebden Bridge (which seems to be unfeasibly groovy in this incarnation) with her young son, she’s accosted by Tawny, a strange hippie.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Tawny is a practitioner of psychic dancing – a craze that’s sweeping the nation. It’s simple – grab your partner, tune into The Spirit and just let it move you. Then it gets even more interesting. Henrietta’s neatly ordered life is quickly invaded by busty lady-love interest Belle; Leo, Belle’s cynical and embittered mentalist boyfriend (always in the shadow of TV magician Daryl Black – do you see what she did there?); and Denzel, Leo’s gay bit-on-the-side.
Their paths twist and turn, with plenty of sex, drugs, surprising coincidences (or are they?) and magic tricks along the way, culminating in a grandiose showdown live on TV at the Albert Hall. The characters vacillate wildly about the truth of psychic dancing – is it just a trick, or is there real ‘magic’ there? – and swell and surge with violently conflicting feelings. While it’s true that in reality we’re all a slippery mass of contradictory emotions at any time, it gets a little bit confusing when you’re trying to get under the characters’ skins.
Overall, I loved the concept of psychic dancing, and the galloping plot. It’s witty, with snappy dialogue and some beautifully-crafted lines. The simmering sexual tension between Belle and Henrietta ramps up the adrenaline, capturing the confusion and excitement of an experimental relationship. There’s a sweet descriptive scene where Henrietta drops her uptight guard and experiments with ecstasy, and I was also really drawn to the character of Tawny, whose role as a comforting ‘mother hen’ lends stability to the ups and downs of the rest of the gang. And there are interesting parallels between Henrietta “coming out” as a psychic dancer, and Leo coming out as gay.
Everything turns out more or less neatly in the end – perhaps a bit too quickly and neatly for my liking – as coincidences are rationally explained away, and Henrietta finds the long-lost father of her son, as well as a pack to finally belong to. And like that tequila slammer in a sunny festival field, in this book Alice Turing has produced something that has certainly cheered my day up.
Dance your Way to Psychic Sex is being produced a a limited edition hardback print run, and is available to buy from Alice Turing’s website.