Month: November 2012

Monthly Review – November 2012

Posted November 30, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

house of leavesNovember has ended and  the holiday season is well on its way. For the people who read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, I hope you enjoyed it. Yes. it was a really weird look into post modernism and I know there were a lot of ‘WTF’ moments within this book. But I do hope everyone got something out of it, even if it is just the ability to say, “Yes, I’ve read it”. For me the book was far too pretentious, even if that is normally my thing. I’m glad to have read it, but I don’t think it is something I would read again. There were some interesting discussions about the book, including if the book is a novel or a piece of art.

In December we will be reading the Beat classic; On the Road by Jack Kerouac as part of our Travel theme. This is a relatively short book so I’m sure people will be able to fit it in around all the festivities.

My monthly reading this month might have leaned heavily toward genre fiction but I felt like it was an enjoyable and relaxing month of reading for me, apart from House of Leaves. Highlights for me include Metroland by Julian Barnes, a look into the life of Christopher as he looks over his past and tries to work out if he is happy with his life. I’ve been looking to read another Barnes book for a while and this was well worth it. Then there was The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugendies; finally a book where a love triangle is done properly. This was a book of discovery as we watch three interconnected young adults grow into adults.

What have you been reading this month? What are the highlights?

  • Perchance to Dream by Robert B. Parker
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  • Without Warning by John Birmingham
  • San Miguel by T.C. Boyle
  • Truth by Peter Temple
  • Shadow of the Rock by Thomas Mogford
  • Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry
  • Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  • No Orchids For Miss Blandish by James Hadley Chase
  • The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams
  • The Artist as Mystic by Yahia Lababidi
  • Metroland by Julian Barnes
  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Posted November 29, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Horror / 0 Comments

House of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiTitle: House of Leaves (Goodreads)
Author: Mark Z. Danielewski
Published: Random House, 2000
Pages: 706
Genres: Horror
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Johnny Truant searches an apartment for his friend and finds an academic study of a documentary film called The Navidson Record. This film investigates the phenomenon of the Navidson’s house where the house is larger inside than the outside. Initially it’s less than an inch difference but it keeps growing. The only problem with all of this is there is no evidence of this documentary ever existing. The book House of Leaves is that academic study (with all the footnotes) mixed with Johnny’s interjections, transcripts from the documentary and anything else.

This debut novel of Mark Z. Danielewski tries to mix a horror novel with some romance and satire but it mainly focuses on just how unreliable a narrator can be. I’ll be honest with you; I struggled to work out if I should review this as a piece of literature or as art, so I’ve done both and you can find my art review. Danielewski has really come up with a unique idea here, it’s almost the literary equivalent of The Blair Witch Project; there is a lot happening on the pages but the reader never gets a full grasp on what is actually happening.

The first 150 pages of this book were quite enjoyable, there were some funny moments and it gave you a real feel for what was going on. But then everything turns completely weird and I found myself raging and sometimes going insane. This is by no means an easy book to read, more of an exploration in the postmodern idea of Post-structuralism. I don’t pretend to understand postmodern literature but it was interest to see what Mark Z. Danielewski does in this book

You’ll either love or hate this genre blending novel; for me, I hated the story. I think my wife got more enjoyment out of watching me rage than I did with reading it. House of Leaves is known as Ergodic literature, which requires the reader to navigate the text in a non-traditional way; this is the first time I’ve seen a book like this. Everyone will have a different interpretation of this novel, so I would love to hear what others thought. Also make sure you check my post about this book as an art form.

House of Leaves: An Art Piece

Posted November 29, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 4 Comments

I picked up the book House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski as part of the Literary Exploration book club (check out my review) and while it is a weird postmodern novel, I think it is art more than literature. So I wanted to talk about my thoughts on this book as art. First of all Postmodern is a weird concept that I don’t fully understand; surrealism makes more sense to me. So I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into.

The book starts off like a normal book; in the sense that it’s formatted normally and you just read down the page. But then it turns into something weird. Different fonts, different coloured writing, upside down and even backwards writing spread out all over the page. It’s at this point where you have no idea how to read it.

Just looking over the book before I even started reading it, I got the sense that this was insanity written on the page, with the multiple voices represented in different typesets. But there is more on the page. The word house is represented in a blue font; even haus and maison show up in blue as well. This was a weird experience for me in the book, my brain wanted to tell me it was black writing so sometimes my eyes played tricks on me with that one word.

Mark Z. Danielewski’s sister, Anne Danielewski, known professionally as Poe wrote an album called Haunted which is meant to accompany this book. While I didn’t read the book while listening to the album, it gives this whole experience a multimedia experience. It is an interesting experience reading excerpts and hearing songs with similar themes. I believe they both toured together for a book tour.

As a piece of literature, I raged, but if I look at this book as art, there really is something unique about this book. Apart from making me pretentious for reading it and having it on my book shelf, this book has a very strong visual component to it. It is what I respect the most from this book. What do others think of this book? Literature or Art?

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco

Posted November 26, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction / 0 Comments

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto EcoTitle: The Prague Cemetery (Goodreads)
Author: Umberto Eco
Translator: Richard Dixon
Published: Vintage, 2010
Pages: 566
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. Simone Simonini is called upon to help create a political conspiracy by forging a document known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Simone is an adventurer, forger and secret agent working for a powerful secret organisation or is he working for himself? Is he playing both sides against each other or will he end up being a scapegoat?

I love Umberto Eco; every time I read a book by him, I get a mind crush; how can one man have so much knowledge on Catholicism, Freemasons, the Knights Templar and even the Rosicrucians? First book I ever read of his was Foucault’s Pendulum and will always remain my favourite because I did not know what to expect. I was so surprised with his knowledge that when he started building the conspiracy behind this book I even started to feel convinced by it too. I had to remind myself that it was fiction and that they were trying to create a conspiracy theory that others would believe.

Umberto Eco is not the easiest author to read; he jams his books full of facts and in The Prague Cemetery it’s all about Nineteenth-century Europe and conspiracies both real and imagined. You certainly have to have an interest in history of secret societies to enjoy the mystery that Eco creates. Luckily for me, I have that interest and feel like Eco is just encouraging me to learn more about these Secret societies; I still have not worked out how to join the Illuminati yet.

The protagonist Simone Simonini is slimy, manipulative and almost an evil genius. This makes him perfect for the role he plays. While it is hard to keep up with all his thoughts and trying to think that many moves ahead, I just enjoyed where this novel took me.

They call Umberto Eco the Dan Brown for the intellects, and while I do try to be pretentious and act like an intellectual, I have a lot more to learn. I love this title for Eco because he takes the conspiracy thriller elements and certainly adds his knowledge of history to it, making a truly intelligent novel. There is so much to learn and so much to enjoy from a book like this. This is my third Eco novel (Foucault’s Pendulum & The Name of the Rose) and I’m already looking forward to my forth. While I will need a break from his brilliance, I would love to know which Eco book I should read next?

Guest Post: Brief Overview of Pulp Fiction – Part 1 (1930’s and 1940’s)

Posted November 25, 2012 by Guest Post in Guest Posts, Literature, Pulp / 11 Comments

In 1887 Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes and the success of his great detective spawned an entire genre of detective fiction that imitates to some degree or another to this date. The light-hearted and relatively straightforward approach towards solving crime reached its pinnacle in what has become known as The Golden Age of crime fiction, the 1920s and 1930s. The large majority of the authors writing in this popular style of fiction were British and this was reflected in the settings and general sense of manners contained within.

The inter-war years were a difficult time both socially and politically and this change in society saw crime fiction edge towards what was a more realistic, and more depressing tone with content that would almost certainly shock the characters found within an Agatha Christie novel. The pioneers for this movement towards realism were, perhaps unsurprisingly, Americans and this style became known as hard-boiled.

Taking its name from the style of preparing eggs that leaves the hard shell intact and the yolk fully solidified, the protagonists of hard-boiled fiction are tough skinned, street wise, sharp tongued and ready to solve a mystery with violence if necessary (and it almost always is.)

These are cops, private detectives, ordinary citizens coming up against prohibition gangsters, organised crime, crooked cops, and looking to stand up for what is morally correct. One lone man against an entire system; grown cynical and expecting the worst of people but hoping for the best, he’s the kind of guy who’s seen every horror and will surely see worse before he solves this case.
Hard-boiled is a naturalistic style of writing combined with a cynical, world-weary attitude. This evolved in to Noir fiction, a genre that is if anything even darker; it’s protagonists are usually morally suspect at best and at worst are degenerates, psychopaths and cold blooded murderers.

The most succinct and accurate definition of the difference between the two styles is this:

Noir is the world. Hard-boiled is the character. You can have Noir without the Hard-boiled, but not the other way around.

Carroll John Daly is credited with creating the first hard-boiled story for Black Mask magazine in the 1920s and his first hard-boiled novel Snarl of the Beast (1927) marks the first of, what I shall deem, the essentials of the genre. At the time Daly was the most popular author of the genre he essentially started but he has since been unfairly labelled a hack (the writers opinion only) for simply not being of the same quality as the famous authors he inspired.

Hot on the heels of Daly was Dashiell Hammett, the former Pinkerton operative turned author, who between 1929 and 1934 published the only novels he ever wrote. At least two of which are widely considered masterpieces of the genre. Red Harvest (1929) featuring the unnamed detective known as The Continental Op and perhaps his most famous work The Maltese Falcon (1930); it’s PI Sam Spade is credited as being the archetype that all other hard-boiled detectives are based on, with his personal detachment from the case and unflinching devotion to ensuring justice his strongest characteristics.

The man who would follow in his footsteps, Raymond Chandler, said of him:

“Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse…He put these people down on paper as they are, and he made them talk and think in the language they customarily used for these purposes.”

A more obscure name with an essential of the genre crops up next, Raoul Whitfield; his debut novel Green Ice (1930) was described by Dashiell Hammett as “280 pages of naked action pounded into tough compactness by staccato, hammerlike writing” but he never seemed to live up to his early success and retired from writing fiction only a few years later.

There are three names that everybody mentions when discussing this period of early hard-boiled American fiction. Hammett is the first, his Maltese Falcon regularly winning polls for best hard-boiled novel also, but to his name you will also find added the words Chandler and Cain.

Raymond Chandler decided to try his hand at writing after losing his job during the Depression and in the process seemed to capture America the way that America wants to be remembered. His hero is Philip Marlowe, his beat is L.A., a brave warrior in the Sam Spade mould but with a softer underbelly. In his classic debut The Big Sleep (1939) we find a PI who likes to drink, is handy in a fight and cynically wisecracks his way through most situations but this is also a man who plays chess, reads poetry and has philosophical questions playing on his mind. The generally acknowledge highpoint in Chandler’s (and Marlowe’s) career would come later with The Long Goodbye (1953) and demonstrates the literary nature of the genre, author and character.

James M. Cain on the other hand was largely active in the noir category; in his major works his characters were not detectives but men corrupted by sex and money. Double Indemnity (1943) is the story of an insurance agent who plots against his employers to get a woman and some money. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) features a mixture of sexuality and violence in a love triangle situation.

With the big names out of the way I will share two more important figures in the formative years of this genre that are a lot harder to find and therefore more obscure.

Cornell Woolrich, who also wrote with some success under the pseudonym William Irish, is virtually out of print today but his importance on the development of the genre remains. His work more often that not evoked despair and cynicism in the everyday life scenarios and as was the case with the bleaker examples of the genre was more popular in France than America. If you can find them, I recommend The Bride Wore Black (1940) and The Black Angel (1943) as good starting points.

Dorothy B. Hughes is another essential early noir author that few people have heard of. Her In A Lonely Place (1947) has recently been republished as a Penguin Modern Classic and quite rightly so, is a fine example of her tightly plotted and tense approach towards noir and features a truly heinous protagonist in Dix Steele. Amongst her other work The Blackbirder (1943) is a story of fear, paranoia and dread.

In Part Two I’ll be taking a look at the second generation of authors who worked during the boom in paperback fiction of the 1950s.

This is a guest post by blahblahblahtobyYou can find him discussing books on Goodreads, discussing movies on Letterboxd, tweeting nonsense as blahblahblahtoby and on his blog blahblahblahgay, feel free to say hi.

There are literally dozens of great authors and great novels that could have been suggested as essential reading for this guide. The writer of the article went through agonising decisions over who to leave out and is more than aware that your favourite author probably hasn’t been mentioned but feel free to start a discussion in the comments.

This post is part of a four post series exploring the history of Hard-Boiled and Noir Fiction, for recommendations check out each post;

The 1930’s – 1940’s

The 1950’s

The 1960’s – 1980’s 

The 1990’s – Onwards


He Died With His Eyes Open by Derek Raymond

Posted November 24, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 4 Comments

He Died With His Eyes Open by Derek RaymondTitle: He Died with His Eyes Open (Goodreads)
Author: Derek Raymond
Series: Factory Series #1
Published: Serpent's Tail, 1984
Pages: 224
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Armed with a box of tapes as evidence, the detective Sergeant sets out to solve the brutal murder of a middle-aged alcoholic who was found dumped on the city outskirts. Murder is a dime a dozen in London and Scotland Yard has more serious cases to deal with. This rogue detective is haunted by the voices on these cassette diaries which leaves him with no choice by to find out why He Died With His Eyes Open.

Book One of the Factory series follows the unnamed Detective Sergeant in his quest to solve the crime of someone the rest of the city does not care about. Part police procedural, part noir, Derek Raymond has a refreshingly new take on the pulp genre. Not only the fact that it combines procedural crime to the plot or the fact that it’s set in London, but what stood out to me is that Raymond mixed the dark hard hitting hard boiled protagonist and gave him compassion. You don’t actually see the compassion by his actions; this detective feels as hard boiled as they come, yet he seems to care about solving the crime of someone that doesn’t really matter. This is what made He Died With His Eyes Open so great.

I feel like Derek Raymond should be compared to noir legend Jim Thompson, mixing the dark and gritty with a real psychological aspect. While at times Raymond’s writing is a bit sloppy and the plot isn’t as tight as the greats, there is something quite spectacular about this novel. It feels like a normal pulp novel, but there is also something refreshingly different about this novel.

The unnamed protagonist is such a strong character, full of mystery and tough as nails. He Died With His Eyes Open is an absolute must read for pulp fans, and I must admit I’m so glad to read a crime novel like this that is not set in America. The English slang and terminology throughout this book was a joy to read. I like to see new spins in the pulp genre when they are done remarkably well, and this novel does just that. Everything you want in a deliciously dark pulp novel plus so many extras; He Died With His Eyes Open is worth getting your hands on.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Posted November 22, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Romance, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Soulless by Gail CarrigerTitle: Soulless (Goodreads)
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate #1
Published: Orbit, 2009
Pages: 365
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Alexia Tarabotti may only be a spinster with no soul but when a she is so rudely attacked by a pack of vampires she discovers just how useful being soulless is. With the ability to negate supernatural powers, she is asked by Lord Maccon, who has been sent by Queen Victoria to investigate what is actually happening with London’s high society. Soulless is a book on social etiquette with a mixture of steampunk, werewolves, vampires, and tea-drinking.

Admittedly, this is not something I would normally read but the mixture of steampunk and Victorian high society did seem to appeal to me. However I was reluctant to try something that sounded very much like paranormal romance. Being a literary explorer, sometimes you just have to suck it up and read something way out of your comfort zone. I know I haven’t read many chick lit/romance novels so I thought maybe it was time to give Soulless ago.

One thing I did enjoy about this book was the Victorian elements; Gail Carriger is an archaeologist and it feels like she has taken all the elements from Victorian literature and society, mixed it with her love of science fiction and formed what she likes to call Urbane Fantasy. The Victorian and steampunk elements really help drive this book for me; although I’m sure Jane Austin would be shocked to read this book.

Then you have the werewolves, vampires and the soulless which I really did hate, I would have much rather read a book like this without paranormal elements and maybe replacing it with a mystery element. That way everything plot wise could still work barring some minor changes. But I have to accept paranormal novels are big sellers and they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It just doesn’t work for me; I don’t think I can continue the series.

Overall this book felt too predictable with the romance and the rest was just too cutesy. I like that this novel had a strong heroine like Alexia but there was too much of a struggle between what I liked and hated to really enjoy this book in any form. I know there is a lot of love for this series out there and I’m sorry to say I wasn’t able to love this book. I was glad it was a quick read. There is a lot of wit and humour in this novel but it wasn’t enough. I’m not going to continue this series but I might give one of Gail Carriger’s Etiquette and Espionage a go, even if it is set in the same universe, it does look interesting.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Posted November 21, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Science Fiction / 5 Comments

11/22/63 by Stephen KingTitle: 11/22/63 (Goodreads)
Author: Stephen King
Published: Scribner, 2011
Pages: 849
Genres: Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Jake is a recently divorced high school teacher who finds himself time traveling to 1958. Fascinated by the chance to live his life in what feels like a much simpler time without mobile phones and the internet, Jake decides to live a life that transgresses all the normal rules. He makes his home in 1958, gets a job he enjoys, falls in love with the beautiful librarian and tries to live the ultimate American dream. But he is also obsessed with making the world right, most importantly trying to stop a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. But does Jake know just how much the world would change if he stops the Kennedy assassination?

I’ll be honest with you, I’ve not read much by Stephen King before, two books in fact (one of those was On Writing). I went into this book expecting a novel about time travel and the effects of changing the past would have. I also expected some weird plot with supernatural or horror elements but that’s just what I expect from King. What I got was something a lot different; this was more of a “what if?” novel. King explores his own thoughts of alternate history and time travel but he doesn’t really stop with that.

Possibly the most unexpected part of this novel was the character building and living life in the late fifties and sixties. King does an interesting job at telling a story of living in the era but in his own unique way by making the protagonist feel out of his element. The whole idea of living life in a time you are not from and finding someone in that time that could possibly be your soul mate. That was not what I thought King would write about but he did a great job building a memorable story around what he wanted to talk about.

Sure, some people are going to want him to skip all the normal life stuff and get to the time travel and alternate history aspects but I found it enjoyable leading up to it. It’s no Mad Men with the characters and life in the sixties but I did enjoy reading it. It’s a huge book and it could have been trimmed but if I was the one to take out elements I probably would have taken out the time travel. Then the book wouldn’t have worked as well.

I’m very interested in that time period, but I would have either preferred a more Mad Men style novel or more noir style with the war on organised crime and those dodgy back door deals made by the FBI. It did end out being a very interesting novel; it definitely surpassed my expectations and turned into a good read. Stephen King is a good story teller but there was not much to love about the prose and style but overall it was worth the read.

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Posted November 19, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary, Pulp / 0 Comments

Dare Me by Megan AbbottTitle: Dare Me (Goodreads)
Author: Megan Abbott
Published: Picador, 2012
Pages: 325
Genres: Contemporary, Pulp
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Beneath the glitz and glamour of this high school cheerleading squad is something dark. Beth Cassidy is the head cheerleader, her best friend Addy Hanlon is her right hand woman. While Beth calls the shots, Abby enforces; this has been the long established hierarchy. But when the new coach arrives, the order is disrupted. While coach draws the girls in and establishes a new regime, a suspicious suicide will put the team under investigation.

This is my first Megan Abbott read and I was excited to see a fresh take on the noir genre into what has often been called suburban noir. It combines the elements I love about noir and places it into a modern setting. You get a glimpse of the dark heartedness of teenage girls in a competitive cheerleading squad, all wanting to be the best and to be popular; but how far will they take it?

When I think of noir, I think of an atmosphere which is dark and grey, but I was really pleased to see just how well it translates into the bright suburban setting. Think of this as Mean Girls to the extreme; you have the bitchness of the girls, the struggle for popularity, and the angst but this is all turned upside down due to the shake-up caused by the new coach and the mystery surrounding their lives.

This is a well-paced, easy to read, modern, edge of your seat mystery that was a pure joy to read. I went and brought some older Megan Abbott novels before I even finished this one. The only thing that I didn’t like about this book was the cover. It looks like it’s a chick-lit or YA novel but I knew it would be a noir novel. I’m not sure if the cover works; now that I’ve read the book I don’t mind the cover too much but for someone that has never read Megan Abbott, what message is the cover sending? Also there is a little gripe I want to mention about this book on Goodreads; just because this book has teenagers as the main characters, does not make this book YA!

Apart from those minor issues I have with the cover and the classification of the book on Goodreads, I would say Dare Me by Megan Abbott is a beautifully disturbing book to read. I had so much fun reading this novel and I think it might be a good introduction to her work. Cheerleaders can be mean and it’s scary to think what lengths they will go to to be the leader and popular one. I’m looking forward to trying some of Abbott’s older books which seem to be more of a traditional noir novels but I also want to read some more of suburban noir as well. As a fan of noir, it pleases me that her modern take of the genre worked this well.

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman

Posted November 16, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction / 0 Comments

The Teleportation Accident by Ned BeaumanTitle: The Teleportation Accident (Goodreads)
Author: Ned Beauman
Published: Sceptre, 2012
Pages: 357
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Egon Loeser is an avant garde theatre set designer on a quest to recreate the perfect stage trick. A trick the great Lavacini’s called the Almost Instantaneous Transport of Persons from Place to Place or to the masses, the Teleportation Device. Aside from his obsessive quest, there are his very dull friends and over course there is the girl who he is equally obsessed with.  This is a hard book to sum up in one paragraph so I think I’ll borrow the blurb on the back of the book;

A historical novel that doesn’t know what year it is; a noir novel that turns all the lights on; a romance novel that arrives drunk to dinner; a science fiction novel that can’t remember what ‘isotope’ means; a stunningly inventive, exceptionally funny, dangerously unsteady and (largely) coherent novel about sex, violence, space, time, and how the best way to deal with history is to ignore it.

Let’s face it; Egon Loeser is a complete obsessed prick who you are probably going to hate; you’ll most likely hate his friends as well. They are all obsessed with sex and feel like they are sex staved and spend most of them time talking about getting laid. Something most guys often do but something I’ve never really seen done to this degree in a book set in the 1930’s. I’m kind of reminded of the Picture of Dorian Gray; Lord Wotton in particular. They are extremely witty, but they are lustful, egotistical pricks.

But hating the characters is actually part of the enjoyment of this book; I wanted to rage so many times but that just added to the experience. You can’t help but feel invested in the story when you want to slap some sense into the main protagonist. I don’t know what was so special about Adele Hitler, sure she was beautiful but Loeser was really obsessed with sleeping with her.

This is not just a novel about lust and time travel; this is more a novel about the disconnection between imagination and reality. Part of the beauty with in the book is the way Ned Beauman takes you in one direction and then unexpectedly you find yourself somewhere else; reading historical fiction turns into realism, science fiction and some other genres.

This is a book you can’t really predict and this is why I didn’t focus on the plot too much. You are taken on a journey of the unexpected and I don’t want to ruin that trip for any of the people planning on reading this book. You will hate this book and you will adore this book; it will leave you with very mixed emotions but there is a certain elegance and beauty within this book that will stay with you well after you’ve finished hating the characters.