The humour has James all over it but it also informative, warm and accepting, no matter who you are. With pictures! (Not like photos of willies, drawn...moreThe humour has James all over it but it also informative, warm and accepting, no matter who you are. With pictures! (Not like photos of willies, drawn cartoons (sometimes with willies)). I especially liked the holy text interpretation section. I hope it makes it into many schools and into the hands of those who need to know it's all OK. Full review to follow.(less)
No one paid much attention to the Georgia Flu at first, thinking it was localised to Russia. Day One, it arrives in Toronto. One week later, civilisat...moreNo one paid much attention to the Georgia Flu at first, thinking it was localised to Russia. Day One, it arrives in Toronto. One week later, civilisation is collapsing. The death rate is estimated at 99%. Year Twenty, a band of travelling musicians and actors perform to the scattered towns of the survivors. This is the world now, few even remembering when planes flew and electricity brought light to the dark.
I read this excellent post-apocalyptic tale in a day; one of the things that kept me glued to the pages was the mystery of the dog. How did one of the same breed and name come to be there? This web of connections is a defining feature of Station Eleven. We are told the story of a man who died the day Georgia Flu hit North America, but he did not die from the plague. We know he is connected to Kirsten, one of the Travelling Symphony, but why is his backstory so prominent when he is no longer alive?
The motto of the Travelling Symphony is “survival is not sufficient” taken from an episode of Star Trek. I liked that the story focused on a time after the chaos of the plague had subsided and people had found ways to live to some extent. That maybe they could start to think about doing more than just surviving and the arts being part of that. They perform Shakespeare, plays from a time of a different plague, that also prove more popular than more modern offerings. Maybe they provide one small connection to the lost past.
Of course, after society collapses there will always be less than good people who rise up and take advantage. Sometimes the symphony meet these people on their travels. They would normally avoid these towns in future; their philosophy is to not get involved in the politics of others. But sometimes that’s easier said than done.
The title comes from a series of comics, produced on a small scale, which struck a chord with Kirsten who was given them as a child. They serve as a connection to the before but the content shares characteristics with the after. As a side note, the UK cover is in the same hues as the comics (and is so much more inviting than the US offering).
The narrative jumps around between Year Twenty, which is the present and various points in the past. Much of it in the before but as the story progresses and the connections start to snowball, some of the immediate after is revealed. It’s not a story of heroes but of normal people, working out how to live their lives when nearly everything they know is gone.
It’s been four months since Mater Viae passed through from London-Under-Glass and claimed her throne. In those four months, the city has sickened and...moreIt’s been four months since Mater Viae passed through from London-Under-Glass and claimed her throne. In those four months, the city has sickened and its occupants divided. London is on the brink of a civil war like no other.
If you’ve not experienced Tom Pollock’s London yet, go and get yourself a copy of The City’s Son right this minute. The third book does not disappoint at all and I can’t remember the last time a trilogy has delivered so well in every single book.
From the opening pages, the streets are closing in, literally as windows and doors are disappearing, leaving nothing but brickwork and the fading screams of those trapped inside. The outlook seems bleak for both the city and Beth, who now must feed off sickly streets. Loyalties are divided and refugees are camping out in Selfridges, one of the last safe havens from a city that is slowly consuming itself.
Tom’s characters don’t come out of their adventures unscathed. It’s not just their inner selves that are transformed, but when bad things happen in this world, they also have physical impact. Pen still holds her scars from the Wire Mistress (who you can expect to see more from in this book) and has another chance to address her internal scars. Beth’s transformation is more fantastical, but comes with many new challenges.
And there’s loss. Not just of the city they call home, the streets lost to a malignance, but also to those they hold dear. Beth visits the baby Pavement Priest that is all that is physically left of Fil and she carries his stolen memories in a flask. Pen learns how her parents, who no longer remember her, think they are going insane. This is a world of tough decisions, unknowns and living with the consequences.
There’s a nod to some of the creatures from the past, some who side with them and others that see the Mirror Mater as their true Goddess. Alliances are shifting, and not always in the direction that you expect. It feels a much more familiar world by now, less of a learning curve getting to know Tom’s stunning world-building.
The ending is dramatic and emotional. I was so thrown by one bit with the cats, where I was thinking aww, isn’t that lovely, only for the scene to pan out and be something else. It really manages to play with your heartstrings if you’ve come to love this world and the characters.
I’m not sure I was ready for it to end. Pitched as a trilogy, Our Lady of the Streets does feel like a conclusion but this world is so multi-layered and creative, it’s going to be hard to let go. Despite the hardships, I was left with a feeling of hope; that something will live on beyond the pages. Beth and Pen, the Railwraiths, London-Under-Glass, the Pavement Priests and Gutterglass are so real to me that they can’t stop existing, in the corners of our imaginations and in the bricks of London Town…