Glossolalia by Tantra Bensko is a thriller about Nancy, a mild-mannered woman who suffers from regular blackouts where she wakes up with bruises and the scent of men’s cologne. She has no idea what goes on during these blackouts, but she does manage to uncover a crime at her uncle’s pesticide company, where she works. The deeper she digs into it though, the more she learns about a complicated, dark world full of politics, sex, violence, and occult rituals.
You may remember Tantra Bensko as the writer of a recent guest post, about shifting from writing literary to writing political fiction. Tantra recently made the switch and Glossolalia is her latest novel, a mix of entertainment, political analysis, and history.
The story is a bit confusing at first, though that’s probably deliberate. The reader is only exposed to Nancy’s point of view for the first few chapters, and Nancy is an unreliable protagonist (she often blacks out, after all). Eventually we learn the cause of her blackouts, and how Nancy’s life is not as simple as it appears on the surface.
What is really interesting about Glossolalia is its underlying message about the importance of critical thinking. Nancy starts off as naïve and not knowing much about the world, and she’s jealous of people who have more knowledge than her. But then she learns to not just accept things at face value and instead she decides to investigate until she figures out the truth. Even if the truth turns out to be terrifying and turns her world upside down.
Nancy turns out to be a super agent whose personality has been split. The reason for her blackouts is because she can’t remember anything when she assumes a different personality.
However, one of her personalities, known as Angela Ageless, does appear to know about everything that goes on. Yet, somehow, when the Angela Ageless personality was formed, she was programmed to not rebel, so even though she apparently knows all the dark secrets of Nancy’s world, she never helps Nancy figure it out. This seems a little odd, especially since Angela and Nancy are so dependent on each other for survival (Nancy needs all her personalities in order to be a whole human).
So Nancy must fight an enormous number of obstacles, including herself, in order to find out what really happened to her and set herself free. That’s a tall order, especially if you can’t completely trust yourself. Plus Nancy has to protect a new friend and a love interest from being hurt or worse by the group who has turned her into an unwitting super spy.
Glossolalia is chock full of sex and violence and mystery. It is also the first book in Tantra Bensko’s The Agents of the Nevermind series, which explores different aspects of social engineering. If you’re looking for more in this series, check out Giant Jack, the prequel to Agents of the Nevermind, or Remember to Recycle, the next book in the series.