An odd book, this seems to have grown out of a jokey discussion between Ann and Jeff Vandermeer about the potential Kosherness of fictional beasts. ThAn odd book, this seems to have grown out of a jokey discussion between Ann and Jeff Vandermeer about the potential Kosherness of fictional beasts. The problem is, it doesn't seem to have grown very much; each entry is a page or a little more and there isn't enough in the description of the animal to server as a bestiary nor enough in the few lines of discussion that follow the either flesh out the ideas, give much in the way of Jewish dietary philosophy or even provide much humour.
Definitely one of the best time travel stories I have ever read, The Anubis Gates mixes SF, magic, literary history, Egyptian mythology and herme4.5/5
Definitely one of the best time travel stories I have ever read, The Anubis Gates mixes SF, magic, literary history, Egyptian mythology and hermetic magic into a tale that is superbly plotted and rollickingly told.
Brendan Doyle, a literature professor and expert on the obscure 19th century poet William Ashbless is recruited by reclusive millionaire J. Cochran Darrow for a secret project, which turns out to be a jaunt back to 1810 to see Samuel Taylor Coleridge give a lecture, where Doyle finds himself stranded and involved in plots from all sides.
This is my first read of Tim Powers, and he writes character and action well and his plotting, as I said before, is top-notch - I'd love to see a timeline of the events laid out, in fact. The interactions between those who travel through time and the events that have already happened - either historical or within the story - mesh perfectly without ever seeming forced. The reader does sometimes see these coming, but not in a way that detracts from the enjoyment of reading.
One oddity is that there are points when you feel that this was a much longer book that has had chunks excised - mostly the jumps are unremarkable, but occasionally there is the feeling that the reader could have done with seeing what happened in the gap, such as when Doyle refers to his embarrassing interview in Fleet Street which happened, as it were, off camera.
Minor niggles aside, this is justifiably a part of the Fantasy Masterworks series....more
Valente's writing grabbed me from the first page, and swept me away in just the way that September - the 12 year old heroine of this book - is swept aValente's writing grabbed me from the first page, and swept me away in just the way that September - the 12 year old heroine of this book - is swept away to Fairyland. It is a sublime fairytale, breathless with invention and Oz-like technicolor - indeed, not just sight but every sense is sated as September pursues adventures through the strange world and stranger inhabitants. And this is key; our heroine is not dragged, she is not Chosen (this is made explicit toward the end) SHE has chosen this adventure and continues to be the motive force. At each juncture - while she may be following advice or guidance or orders - she chooses her path and, more than once, she has the opportunity to turn aside and go home but perseveres because of her commitment to the friends she has made.
With nods to Lewis Carroll (and many other magical tales), this is wonderfully told and constructed story which, as should all fairy stories is layered and relevant, a point to the story (more than one, in fact) that is lesson without being a lecture, a moral without being moralising. And, being a true fairy story, there is of course some fear and darkness, some pain and some blood.
I couldn't help thinking that, were this to be filmed, it would have to be directed by Dave McKean, or possibly Henry Selick, the directory behind Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
I think my first read of Catherynne Valente has made me a fan. ...more