Heinrich, Will 1978(?)-
HEINRICH, Will 1978(?)-
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
Writer. Harper's magazine, intern, 2001.
The King's Evil (novel), Scribner's (New York, NY), 2003.
Will Heinrich's first novel, The King's Evil, appeared in 2003 and was dubbed a "brooding and suspenseful … debut" by a Publishers Weekly critic. Heinrich, a recent graduate from Columbia University and an intern at Harper's magazine when he sold the book to Scribner, has fashioned a tale that "asks provocative questions about the nature of good and evil," according to the reviewer.
Joseph Malderoyce, the protagonist and narrator of Heinrich's "creepy Gothic tale," as Mark Rozzo described it in the Los Angeles Times, is a former lawyer who has left his practice and moved to remote and rural Bettley to spend his free time studying tuberculosis, the disease that killed both his wealthy parents. Their deaths, in fact, brought Malderoyce into his patrimony, allowing him to quit his loathed work as a lawyer. Malderoyce has other passions, too: as a youth he was inspired to become a painter after seeing a Piet Mondrian exhibition. Practicality, however, forced him to set such dreams aside, and he has long regretted that youthful decision. As Rozzo put it, "Joseph [Malderoyce] is the perfect embodiment of how the rash notions of adolescence reverberate into middle age."
Into this quiet, remote life comes a stranger, a teenager named Abel who camps out at Malderoyce's doorstep one stormy night. The older man takes the youth in, an act of kindness and charity with alarming consequences. The mysterious Abel, who is something of an alter ego for Malderoyce, is less than a perfect guest, ruining slides Malderoyce has prepared, manipulating visitors or being downright rude to them, and eventually turning violent. Malderoyce sees the evil in the youth and feels he must "cure" him of it in the same manner that early kings were supposed to be able to cure a patient of tuberculosis by their touch. He is at once repelled by and attracted to the youth, who is by turns simply a surly outsider and a vision of Malderoyce's younger self. The denouement is, as the critic for Publishers Weekly noted, "a disturbing moral lesson about the power of violence to expunge evil." The reviewer also felt that though Heinrich's "narrative initially has a gripping immediacy, its schematic nature soon becomes irksome."
Other reviewers focused more on the chilling aspects of this tale. For example, a writer for Kirkus Reviews called young Abel a "tyrant adolescent and a troll out of Grimm." For Library Journal contributor Jim Coan, Heinrich's tale about dealing with the "darker forces of one's personality has psychological, philosophical, and even biblical overtones."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2003, review of The King's Evil, p. 629.
Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Jim Coan, review of The King's Evil, pp. 155-156.
Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2003, Mark Rozzo, review of The King's Evil, p. R14.
Publishers Weekly, May 26, 2003, review of The King's Evil, p. 45.