The Marigold by Andrew F. Sullivan

Truthfully, I wanted to read one of Andrew Sullivan’s books because he is married to Amy Jones. And I love Amy Jones. (Hi, Amy!) When writers are also life partners, I get curious about how similar/different their writing styles are, or their genre choices. (Amy has a book coming out this month, too!)

I knew from the premise that The Marigold would be different from Amy’s books, but the idea of it intrigued me. I like near-future dystopias and I enjoy the results of a good imagination.

The Marigold is an apartment building in near-future Toronto that is being infiltrated by a mysterious mould. People are being found dead. And The Marigold is not the only place in the city where this mould has been found. It is eating away at the city’s infrastructure, feeding off dead bodies, creating sinkholes and access to more human life.

The Wet wasn’t only learning – it was extrapolating and accelerating. It was circling the city like a noose.

Cathy and Jasmine are city public health officials who have been tracking the mysterious mould, and have seen more than others would like to know. (“the cold stitched itself into everything it touched”) Not only is this a mould problem, but there also seems to be a mysterious gooey sludge that can reach out and grab a hold of you. This job does not pay enough.

Soda is a ride-share driver–trying to mind his own business and make a go of life–who stumbles upon some inside information. He takes it to his seemingly unstable father who tries to make sense of it.

Henrietta is a 13-year-old girl whose mother is usually passed out on the couch and whose father is missing. Her building is beside a big sinkhole that continues to get bigger. Rather than think that her father left her, she would rather believe that he got swallowed up by the sinkhole when it first appeared. Now, she is desperately looking for a friend who got pulled into the same sinkhole by some kind of underground entity, and she feels responsible. A slimy human-like creature is now leading her to where he believes her friend has gone. It’s hoping, in exchange, that Henrietta will help it find its old “self”.

Then there’s Stanley Marigold, owner of The Marigold, who doesn’t seem to care about anything but himself and his buildings. Willing to pay whatever cost to keep his buildings standing and filled (even if that means a human cost).

Stan welcomed the attention. They hated the Marigolds, but that hate meant they cared about the Marigolds, what they represented in a shining city like Toronto. Old white power gone to seed, but still sputtering, spitting, and hacking on its way to the grave.

They pretended things were fine as new community centres collapsed in on themselves like rotten fruit, their decline aided by the rain and the wind, allied with the wildlife surging through the streets at night. Roads swallowed by sinkholes, construction parks turned into quagmires, and the waterfront disappearing foot by foot into the lake.

As the story moves along, the point of view shifts between the characters and storylines, working its way to the end when they will all connect.

Equal parts grim, horrifying, and bizarre, The Marigold is a gutsy look at how we’re destroying ourselves from the inside out.

It looked more like an open grave, forms resembling bodies shimmering in the thick, black fluid, barely human yet achingly alive the closer you got to the shallows. The slurry moaned, a guttural sound.

Photo by Mariana Montrazi on

Further Reading:

Literary Review of Canada:Andrew F. Sullivan’s The Marigold features a brief epigraph attributed to Rob Ford: “Everything is fine.” Those three words would be a lot more convincing coming from Jane Jacobs or perhaps even Drake, but coming from the late Toronto mayor, they smack of comedy, irony, and foreboding.

Publisher’s Weekly: This impressively bleak vision of the near future is as grotesquely amusing as it is grim.

Interview at The Toronto Star: “…the Wet is a manifestation of the alienation and isolation of urban living. It is the voice telling you that you are totally alone and should just give up. The Wet is also neglect, because that’s where black mold, for instance, comes from. So with the Wet, I asked myself: what if there is this thing that, like death, is always coming for you, is relentless, has no patience, but also it’s patient because it will find you eventually.

Thank you to ECW Press for providing me with a copy of this book for review!

8 thoughts on “The Marigold by Andrew F. Sullivan

  1. wadholloway says:

    Near future dystopias are a good way to explore our fears. Not a partner, but a fellow (Western Australian) blogger’s debut novel was about a disease -the fur – which was a mould taking over WA.
    The Fur by Nathan Hobby

    • Naomi says:

      I think that’s one of the reasons I like them. They ask questions like, What would happen if…? What would I do if…? And with global warming, mould is a plausible concern!

  2. annelogan17 says:

    I’ve been seeing this book everywhere, it sounds really intriguing. As someone who used to live in Toronto, it may really hit home for me haha

    I have the Amy Jones ARC on my bookshelf right now 🙂

  3. Rebecca Foster says:

    I’ve heard about dystopian novels where an evil fungus takes over. The setup of this one reminds me a bit of The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty. I’m also intrigued by writer couples!

    • Naomi says:

      I know that many of them very likely have day jobs, but I still like to picture them each in their own office in the same house, wandering into the kitchen to get tea throughout the day and exchanging updates. The pets maybe taking turns keeping them company. 🙂

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