by Jay Hosking
“[Jay Hosking] turns in a startlingly fine performance with his first novel, about a man so determined to find his missing sister that he risks his own life—his own reality, in fact—to solve the mystery of her disappearance . . . [Three Years with the Rat] succeeds brilliantly, drawing us completely into a labyrinthine narrative.”
“Hosking grounds the fantasy and philosophical speculation firmly in a detailed version of Toronto in the early 21st century, and his plot bounces nimbly among the three years of the title, answering questions earlier chapters raise while opening up new ones. The ending pays off all the preceding buildup, pulling narrative strands together with satisfying finesse while venturing into new territory.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Complex like David Mitchell. . . Three Years with the Rat, is a taut work of sci-fi noir with undertones of Paul Auster’s eerie New York Trilogy.”
“Ambitious and mind-stretching.”
– Quill and Quire
“Structured anachronistically, Hosking’s time-looping tale deftly teases the reader with well-deployed reveals and intrigues with elegantly limned science-fiction ideas (including the brain-hurting concept of “subjective time” and spooky otherworldly “hunters” set upon those who temporally trespass). Hosking’s prose is limpid and tonally sophisticated; he’s a graceful wordsmith as well as a cerebral idea man.”
– Kirkus Review
When a young man’s best friend and sister go missing, he finds a mystery waiting for him in their apartment: a wooden box big enough for a person to crawl inside, a note that says “This is the only way back for us,” and a lab rat as the only witness.
After several years of drifting between school and go-nowhere jobs, a young man makes a decision to return to the city he left after high school. The magnet is his beloved older sister, Grace: always the golden girl, smart and charismatic even when she was rebelling, and always his hero. Now she is a promising graduate student in science and the centre of a group of friends that take “Little Brother” into their fold, where he finds camaraderie, romance, and even a decent job.
But it soon becomes clear that all is not well with Grace. Always sharp, she now veers into sudden rages, often directed at her seemingly adoring boyfriend, John, who is engaged in the same field of research. Her accusations of betrayal are cryptic, and her brother is especially confused and troubled when she turns on him, accusing him of a fatal disloyalty. A visit to their mother triggers an episode that suggests Grace has tumbled into serious mental illness—except that John seems to know more than he is telling, and some supposedly objective certainties about what is real seem to be starting to fracture.
When Grace disappears, the narrator embarks on a mission to discover the truth, a quest that brings him up against an astonishing question: if the universe is infinite, could there be infinite variations of ourselves, past, present, and future, in a dimension only a few can even imagine? And if there are, and we could enter that dimension, what might confront us? And could we ever make it back?
This kinetic novel catapults the classic noir plot of a woman gone missing and a web of secrets and lies revealed into the 21st century city, where so-called reality crashes into speculative science in a provocative, genre-bending, and page-turning debut.
“A remarkable blend of mystery, family drama, love story, and time travel narrative, Jay Hosking’s debut novel is masterful indeed”
– Annabel Lyon, author of The Sweet Girl
“An up-close and personal portrait of troubled genius, a mad scientist story for the new millennium, Hosking offers up a thought-provoking distillation of the private lives of high-achievers in a story that confronts its characters with a mysterious manifestation of their ambitions, desires, and vulnerabilities — a compelling and unsettling book.”
– Lee Henderson, author of The Road Narrows As You Go
“Three Years with the Rat is a mind-warping thriller that will make you question reality as you conceive of it. One of the most assured and haunting debuts I’ve read in recent memory.”
– Blake Crouch, author of Dark Matter
Hamish Hamilton Canada, Fall 2016
St. Martin’s Press, US
Finalist for the 2017 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize (Speculative Fiction)
Booklist: The Year’s Best Crime Novels 2017