2021 Reviews · blog tour · contemporary fiction · new release

#Blog Tour – The Fatal Dance by Berndt Sellheim

Title: The Fatal Dance

Author: Berndt Sellheim

Published: October 27th 2021

Publisher: HarperCollins AU

Pages: 400

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 3 stars

A dizzingly intelligent and compulsive work of fiction from an outstanding new Australian writer.

Redmond Campbell’s luck has just taken a turn for the worse. His dog’s dead, his wife, Bea, has landed in prison, and he has to look after Bea’s sister, Lori – a wildly disinhibited woman with Huntington’s disease – who hates him. And Redmond’s nephew, Mada, a PhD student searching for a cure for the disease that’s killing his mother, doesn’t give Red the respect he deserves. But Red is about to change all that. He’s got plans to become Sydney’s leading property agent and he’s about to make a connection that will line him up a killing. It’s legal too. Well, almost. What matters is that Red has a whiff of success, and he’s damn sure everything’s about to come up roses.

Funny and moving, profound and profane, both an intimate family drama and an incisive parable of capitalism and collapse, this is an anarchic, joy-filled and ribald read from one of Australia’s most exciting authors. A novel about the dance of the body through life, it is a story brimming with sting, hope, and gratitude for a world that is equal parts cruel and kind.


The author of the 2013 Fourth Estate release Beyond the Frame’s Edge takes a step away from his photography and video production work to pen a new literary based novel titled, The Fatal Dance. A story that delves into humanity, morality, personal struggles, gratitude, empowerment and the self, The Fatal Dance is a book that will make your skin prickle with concern.

The Fatal Dance revolves around a number of troubled characters. We meet Redmond, a man facing a number of challenges on the home front as he deals with the death of his dog, the absence of his wife due to a jail sentence and the burden of caring for his wife’s seriously ill sister. With Redmond’s whole family fold feeling the pressure, including his nephew who is desperate to find a way to cure his mother of the disease that is breaking down her body, Redmond has a rough deal in life at the moment. But Redmond is determined to move his life in a more promising direction, which will start with a new career turn in the property industry. Redmond knows he has high aspirations despite the family issues he is currently experiencing. The Fatal Dance is about choices, intersections, pressures and the problems we face in day to day life. It also spreads an important message of the importance of embracing the moment, rather than dwelling on the things we have not achieved.

The Fatal Dance is a literary minded novel with elements of sardonic humour and dry wit from second time author Berndt Selheim. With a background in philosophy thanks to a doctorate, a poetry collection under his belt and a number of awards in the writing industry to his name, Berndt Sellheim is versatile writer. This latest novel from the Vancouver based author is quite hard hitting and raw, due to the inclusion of a number of trying themes.

Sellheim’s approach is quite biting and caustic. The situations presented to the reader in The Fatal Dance are confronting, especially in regards to conflicts of the heart. The Fatal Dance concerns itself with family dramas, personal problems, setbacks, health issues, fragility, lack of independence, incarnation, death, loss, greed, higher education, trauma, suicide and substance abuse. Selheim’s approach is unflinching and open, providing the reader with an idea of the coping mechanisms that are activated when dealing with the problems in The Fatal Dance. At times I felt as though I was not in tune with Sellheim’s intent or approach, which did impact my enjoyment of this book. There were interludes in this story that were hard to confront, especially in regards to animal mortality, suicide and severe illness. I do issue a trigger warning for those who find sensitive topics difficult to absorb.

Sellheim’s characters are carefully presented and observed. I could empathise with some areas of their lives. I found the Huntington’s Disease narrative direction an enlightening one. After reading Sellheim’s book I felt better educated about this challenging illness in terms of my level of sympathy, understanding about the lack of a conclusive treatment and the burden placed on caregivers. Likewise, the jail-based sequences featured in The Fatal Dance were informative, giving the reader a glimpse in the life of a female inmate. It can make for both a confronting and serious read, but at other times it takes an almost opposite mode of thinking with moments of jest interspersed throughout. Overall I had a mixed bag response to Berndt Sellheim’s revealing set piece.

The Fatal Dance by Berndt Sellheim was published on 27 October 2021 by HarperColllins AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Fatal Dance Berndt Sellheim, visit here.

*I wish to thank HarperCollins AU/DMCPR Media for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

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