01/05/2009. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Gollancz. 277 page enlarged paperback. Price: £10.99 (UK only). ISBN: 978-0-575-08230-4. pub: Gollancz. 281 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-575-08231-1.
check out website: www.orionbooks.co.uk
Henry Lamb leads a boring life. He's very good at his job. Being a filing clerk is good. He likes to file. He likes his flatmate. He loves his flatmate but is too shy to tell her. Everything is neat and tidy, except his grandfather. There's something about his grandfather that messes up Henry's orderly life.
When Henry's grandfather is dying in hospital, his life changes. He finds love, gets promotion and then there is the end of the world. It starts with his grandfather keeling over in the pub, leads to an odd encounter with his new boss on the London Eye and a horrible meeting two very odd and scary schoolboys.
Anticipating this story, I was thinking the murky world of spies in John le Carré style. However, this is more 'The Tales Of The Unexpected'. It feels original and weird and is told both by Henry and another narrator. The change in narrators is perplexing and jarring. It is disconcerting and disturbing and, oddly, also fun. Do not be fooled this is a full-blown fantasy novel that from its cover tries to hide its genre. My partner would be horrified if he read this and would throw it down in disgust when it reveals its fantasy ankles.
You can't judge a book by a cover but you might feel cheated if you were expecting straight on murky spy world. This is a clever book, which if the finale was simplified on screen would simply equate to a mass of special effects. The thought process attached to its conclusion would only appear as a few expensive CGI moments but as a book, it leaves a more lasting impression.
Overall, though, as long as you know what you are getting this is good value with enough twists and turns to keep anyone interested. Set in a bizarre alternate London with a very odd Royal family this is another novel that wants to pack in lots of ideas. It delivers a good story and a cracking ending just when you think an ending would be impossible to deliver.
Add SFcrowsnest.com daily news updates to your own web site or blog - just cut and paste the code below...
Stephen Hunt's novels - USA