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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There is Nothing Sweeter than a Free Book!

A London Book Haul

You may have noticed that I’ve been to The London Book Fair, god knows my Twitter feed has been full of stuff about it.

For those of you who don’t know much about it, The London Book Fair is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels.

It is an annual event that sees more than 25,000 publishing professionals, authors, and students arrive in London for the week of the Fair to network, attend seminars, and kick off the year of business.

Perhaps even more important, however, is the metric tonne of free stuff that one can acquire. Continue reading “There is Nothing Sweeter than a Free Book!”

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”

The City & The City: A Review

This isn’t the first time I’ve reviewed a novel by China Miéville, and it won’t be the last time either.

China Miéville is one of the finest writers of science-fantasy I have ever read. Whether it is the imagined world of Bas-Lag, which three of his most ambitious novels envisage, to the grimy streets of contemporary London in King Rat, China Miéville is consistently creating tales with puissant imagery, poetic prose, and a confident voice. The thing I love about China Mieville is his ability to make an impossible premise feel real, and that is exactly what he has done with The City & The City.

In fact, I could just gush about how overwhelmingly fantastic he is, and how almost every book he’s written I’ve loved from start to finish (except the census-taker), but that wouldn’t make for a very entertaining blog post now, would it?

So, here is some photographic evidence of my fandom so we can move along with this post:

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It’s not an entire shelf of Miéville. . .

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Dealing With Blue Monday

Today, across the UK, people are feeling the effects of Blue Monday. A day that, according to a light-hearted formula created in 2005 by Dr Cliff Arnall, is the most depressing day of the year. I think they are important, those two words: ‘light-hearted.’ It is a light-hearted observation of the stress caused by Christmas debts, going back to school, and the terrible weather. That, however, is where it ends.

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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.

Continue reading “Perdido Street Station Review”