The Weak Spot

Lucie Elven

Illustrated by Suzanne Elven

Traven T. Croves (Design) KOPA, Lithuania (Printer)




ISBN: 9781913513160


Publication date: 15 September 2021



On a remote mountaintop somewhere in Europe, accessed by an ancient funicular, a small pharmacy sits on a square. As if attending confession, the townspeople carry their ailments and worries through its doors, in search of healing, reassurance, and a witness to their bodies and the stories of their lives.

One day, a young woman arrives in the town to apprentice under its charismatic pharmacist, August Malone. An outsider, she is lulled by the stories and secrets shared by both customers and colleagues, and slowly loses herself in this strange, beguiling, isolated community. As her new boss rises to the position of mayor, exploiting his intimate knowledge of those whose trust he gained, she realises that something sinister is going on around her.

Ambiguous, compelling and bewitching, The Weak Spot is a fable about our longing for cures, answers and an audience, and the silent manipulations of those who hold power in our world.

‘As debuts go, The Weak Spot is so refreshingly elusive, it demands to be read a second time to fully unravel the intricate commentary Elven is making on the many moving parts of our modern world.’ – The Arts Desk

‘[In] Elven’s remarkable novel … there is always the feeling that everything could suddenly change, the boundaries of the fiction completely redrawn, or the central players of the novel suddenly unrecognisable.’ – The London Magazine

‘In prose reminiscent of Fleur Jaeggy, The Weak Spot is a prismatic fable spiked with dozens of elegant revelations. Lucie Elven is an extremely promising new writer, one in touch with a greater, richer world that exists just below the surface of daily life.’ – Catherine Lacey

The Weak Spot is a controlled, acute and anxious fever-dream of a book. The prose prickles and shimmers, as though suspended over a great depth. An atmospheric and thrilling novella.’ – Seán Hewitt

‘Haven’t we all had a boss like Mr. Malone, and felt as though our public and private lives (not to mention elections) were being manipulated by men like him? In consistently surprising, sculptural prose, Elven crafts a world that is both deeply strange and uncomfortably believable. A novel to savour and admire.’ – Olivia Sudjic

‘This eccentric, intensely observed book – full of dry humor and sturdy, elegant sentences – examines the slippery quality of the self in relation to others and the treacherous terrain of a world governed by manipulative men. Slightly gothic, vaguely old-world, and briskly contemporary, The Weak Spot is a singular work from a writer whose fiction I’ve long admired in the pages of NOON.’ – Kathryn Scanlan

‘Recalling the mood of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain and the aesthetic of a Dario Argento film, The Weak Spot is an evocative and intriguing novel. The thrill is in the prose – vivid, expansive, perfectly controlled. I love where Lucie Elven’s sentences take me, and I adore this book.’ – Lauren Aimee Curtis

‘No word is wasted in Lucie Elven’s whipsmart, elegiac debut. Every scene and image is vivid, cutting, and fluid, turning a peculiar mountain town into a wonderland of social insights and frictions. I knew I would be rereading The Weak Spot halfway during my first read – and a few pages into my second read. Elven is a master in the making.’ – Stephen Kearse

‘This novel is extraordinary. I especially like it aesthetically. The setting/landscape feels as though it’s drawn from illustration or a children’s cartoon, almost, or a style of very flat, but vivid painting. Still trying to figure it out, but truly inspired…’ – Amina Cain

‘Dream-like’ – The New Yorker

‘Sentences brittle as twigs snapping under your feet … delightful’ – The Telegraph

‘Hallucinatory’ – Vanity Fair

‘Hypnotic’ – Buzzfeed