What a feast. What a labyrinthine, what-am-I-reading-here bamboozling baffling treat. I can give no higher praise than to say as soon as I finished it I wanted to read it again. First time for being guided through the maze; second time to savour the author’s world-building skills and narrative artistry in creating such a bizarre immersive epic in such a slim volume.
I didn’t enjoy ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’. A FOMO read, but not my thing. So I wasn’t desperate to read this long-awaited work, but being a great deal shorter than its predecessor, and receiving rave reviews from people whose tastes I tend to share I thought I’d give it a go. Another book where I can I say I’m so glad I did.
It reminded me a lot of ‘Walking on glass’ by Iain Banks, which I loved, an otherworldly parallel universe gradually enmeshing with ‘real life’, told through puzzles within puzzles, mysterious messages and signs, all narrators unreliable so you don’t know what or who to believe, but with an added dash of occultism. I don’t want to say much about it as it’s a book best approached with no preconceptions, and more enjoyable if you don’t know where it’s leading you. Enter with an open mind. Greet the birds and the dead. Read the signs and symbols.