Railsea: A Review

Look at the acknowledgments at the end of the book & you’ll see just how wide a base of influences this work of art has drawn from. The influence from Herman Melville is the most prominent of the lengthy list of writers Miéville has acknowledged, being another author who wrote a book about a great white beast, a hunter’s obsession, & a life at sea.

But this is no ordinary sea. Railsea is, quite literally, a sea of rails.  A great, sprawling expanse of train tracks that criss-cross, weave, & spread out in a tangle of wood & iron. On these rails (you guessed it) are trains of all varieties. Salvage hunters searching for the shiny detritus of a world long gone, an armada of sail-powered wooden trains, & mole-trains which bristle with hunters & their harpoons.

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The Watchmaker of Filigree Street: A Review

This book gave me whiplash.

Set against the backdrop of the 19th century Clan na Gael bombings in London, and 19th century political unrest in Japan, Natasha Pulley’s The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is nothing short of immense. For a new author to release a debut novel that gripped me so intensely, in a genre I don’t generally read, is nothing short of mindblowing. I won’t lie and says it’s perfect. At one point I found myself slightly lost during a confusing, labyrinthine scene, and a couple of plot points came across as jarring. But on the whole, the book is enjoyable, unique, and smart enough to keep readers guessing all the way up to the end.

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I Went to The London Book Fair

We stumbled out of Baron’s Court tube station looking lost and feeling overwhelmed. I, clutching my new oyster card, walked over to a map and pretended that I knew what I was looking for. I had obviously failed because a kindly old lady approached me, observed my pained visage, and gave me and the group the directions we needed.

That was the first surprise London afforded me! I had been led to believe that everyone in London was stuck in tunnel vision mode. That they were too rude and/or indifferent to bother with a lost looking group of master’s students. At least, that is what I had been told.

Unfortunately, that soon became the truth as pedestrians elbowed us aside, people cut in front of us, and drivers beeped their car horns and swore under their breath as we failed to cross the road quick enough.

Ah! Finally, the ‘authentic’ London experience. Continue reading “I Went to The London Book Fair”

The Queen of the Tearling: A Review

The Queen of the Tearling is the debut novel, and the first book in a trilogy, by American Author Erika Johansen. Johansen grew up in the San Fransisco area and achieved a MFA from the Iowa’ Writer’s workshop.

Erika Johansen is a fascinating author, with an interesting – and quite public – stance on having more ‘ugly’ heroines in book series. This is certainly reinforced in The Queen of the Tearling with constant references to how ‘plain’ and ‘ugly’ the main character is. In fact, Johansen touches upon a great many meritorious subjects during this novel. But it is for these very same reasons that I’ve come away from this novel quite disappointed.

I hate to give a bad review, especially when everything seems to point at the book actually being good. Johansen secured a seven-figure book and movie deal before the first novel even hit the shelves, the book has sold oodles of copies, and it has drawn comparisons to Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games, both widely regarded as fantastic series.

And that’s a problem! Continue reading “The Queen of the Tearling: A Review”

Perdido Street Station Review

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The first book I’ve read that I could’ve read just for the setting. Miéville’s New Crobuzon, the city in which Perdido Street Station is set, is teeming with thousands of nooks and crannies that, on reading this book, felt like turning over suspect rocks on the beach. The city in this book is so well imagined, so perfectly laid out, and so well described. I am fairly sure that if I were pulled from my chair right now and dropped in the middle of it, I would know exactly where I was.

There is something to be said for Miéville’s world building. It is so utterly precise, sharp, evocative. For the first three-hundred pages, of what turned out to be a marathon 880 pages, I felt like a newcomer in this corrupt city. A city awash with corrosive effluent both figurative and literal.

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