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The Unhappy Medium

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  927 ratings  ·  137 reviews
Dr Newton Barlow has everything a scientist could ask for – a glittering career both in the lab and on television, a beautiful wife, and best of all, the opportunity to promote his rock-solid certainty that supernatural and religious beliefs are nothing but complete and utter hokum. But Barlow is about to take a tumble. Mired in accusations of fraud, incompetence and malpr ...more
Paperback, 394 pages
Published February 2014
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  927 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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Richard Derus
Rating: 3* of five

It was a fun ride, but it went on too long and lost its humorous momentum. The idea of Dr. Newton Barlow, disgraced scientist, as the unhappy medium was a great set-up, but the set-up bits of the book were longer than necessary. This would be a hoot for a TV series idea! Not likely to pick up vol. 2 unless it's free or 99¢.
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Few books take me more than a couple of days to read, this book took about 6 weeks.

Considering the originality, humour, excitement and quality of the majority of the book, I can't understand how it came to pass that there is nothing gripping for several chapters at the beginning. Only the fact I'm a physicist like Newton made me carry on at first, his character really appealed to me.

After two weeks I went on Amazon to check I hadn't been mistaken in seeing a 4* average review and I wasn't alon
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
I got so far into this book, only to find myself thinking - who cares? So, not for me. Far too facile, far too knowingly humorous, far too reminiscent of college humour of twenty years past. However, I really do think Brown has missed his calling - his depictions of bona fide history were masterly. I seriously think he would be better writing humorous histories for adults. I enjoyed these interludes far more than the rest of the book...
May 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Oh my god you are not getting paid by the word! Get to the point!
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This longish novel was a lovely read, and the prose is often rather delicious (and as a Yank I'm probably obligated to also say how very British it seemed). There are lots of frills and brief side-tours that add spice and interest, especially for those readers who like a good rumble around an antique store.

After an eerie little prologue, the story starts waaaay back in the mid-1100s giving obscure historical details that are crucial to the rest of the story, even if it might not seem so at first
Joel Sassone
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Unhappy Medium has everything I look for in a comedic fantasy/SF novel. The protagonist is a skeptic (think Mythbusters, James Randi, Harry Houdini et al) who finds that reality is...not as he had always assumed. Call it supernatural noir with a dash of historical (not to mention prehistorical) fiction for flavor, along the lines of the Bobby Dollar series by Tad Williams, the Inferno series by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the Reality Dysfunction series by Peter F. Hamilton, or the Ghost ...more
Grace Harwood
Aug 18, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This rambling, overlong tale of a disgraced academic Newton Barlow, who is suddenly offered a new career from beyond the grave as a medium (a very unhappy one at that) just seemed to stretch on and on into eternity (much like the fate of the characters in the book). There was something about another disgraced sales executive, who was possessed by a very disgraced, evil Cardinal and how they all get together for some ritualistic human sacrifice in order to escape purgatory. The act of reading the ...more
Lucian Randall
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's one thing to write a funny book - and this is certainly a very funny book - but it's another to weave in advanced science and a far-reaching roam through history and make it all seem necessary to the story. That's the great thing about this book: the obvious joy taken in knowledge and the world itself serves to season a supernatural romp with something altogether mature. It could easily be a series - let's hope it is - and any one of its themes would be enough for most writers. Ambitious, e ...more
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club, 2014
A very funny book, in the spirit (pun intended) of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, or the writing of Christopher Moore. Initial chapters set up the various characters, paying off in a rollicking finish as they come together later in the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Randy Gardner
Mar 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not "My cup of tea". Rather tedious for my taste.
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I struggled to get into the story for the first 20% of the book, but ended up really liking it :-)
An Unexpected Favourite That Has Found A Place In My Heart

Read my full review on my WordPress blog, Flora's Musings...

So, what did I like about it?
Oh, loads! Where do I begin…

T.J. Brown is a new-to-me author and I found his writing style very easy to read. His descriptions, characters and plot development engaged me from the very first page and kept me reading. The first few chapters set up the feel of the story (think Horrible Histories for adults or Discworld irreverence) and I loved the way t
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beach-reads, ebook
This book is a cartoony romp. Either that works for you or it doesn't.

I found it kind of hard to get into the world on this one. It was fun from the beginning, and the characters who were supposed to be likeable were definitely likeable, but I just couldn't connect for the first quarter of the book. At that point there was a very nice father-daughter scene which pretty much acted as a touchstone for the rest of the story.

My other complaint was the under representation of female characters among
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is certainly an unusual book. The premise is a good vs evil plot with a highly unlikely cast of characters. Science meets the afterlife in a book that tackles capitalism, teenage angst, fame, history, and just plain old bad guys.

Something I appreciate greatly about this book is that the author didn't dumb it down for the reader; he assumes that we readers have the brain power to get the references and understand the science. I enjoy books where I feel the author's personality come through,
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
I got to 39 percent mainly on the strength of the quirkiness of the descriptions and some humor in the writing. But the book just rambles. I'm not too sure I care much about these characters or what happens to them so I won't be finishing. It just seems like a fairly straightforward good versus evil type supernatural story clogged up with a lot of rambling, pointless asides, tons of unneeded description and following back everybody's family tree. Several chapters into the book very little has ac ...more
Dianna Harrington
There are very few books that I haven't finished, in fact only two in my lifetime. This is one. I just couldn't get past the boring scientific background story before getting to what could have been good. Others have said once you get to the meat of the story it's good. I just couldn't get there. There was nothing to peak my interest to keep turning those pages. I also found no humor in the 5 or so chapters that I read.
judy mitchel
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was certainly what I would call a "quirky" bit of the beginning I wasn't certain just WHAT was going on..but as I read I found that I couldn't put it down...I thought it was very funny, is definitely British me, it was a truly clever piece of writing, and not just your everyday mystery, spook story, romance..or anything I've read before, and I read ALL the time...thank you, T. J. Brown, for such a fun filled, weird and entertaining romp...
Sherri Y. Duncan
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it did start off fairly slow and I almost didn't finish reading it. Once it got going, I couldn't wait to see how it ended.

I wouldn't have called it a comedy though - Maybe a supernatural drama with some comedic sections. For example, loved Newton's taunting the most evil of evil with "love" comments.

I would definitely read more from this author.
Tamara! aka AmyG.Dala
I have to admit, it took me awhile to get into the groove of this book. At first, it seemed rather doomy/gloomy and not funny, while the 'stage' was being set, but then it picked up speed and the humor started to become humorous. From the out load chortle, to laugh out loud funny at times, along with some just plain 'eww' moments, found it to be all in all a pretty fun read. Looking forward to reading the second one.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I greatly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the next in the series. Sometimes It felt like the author was a little TOO influenced by Monty Python and Douglas Aadams and as such would ramble on for pages for a punchline. But the story itself was fun and well thought out, and I liked the mythology introduced.
Steven Wade
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Supernatural hijinks on the English countryside

This could easily be a five star book, however I have issues with how long it takes to get to the point. Once it gets there,of course, it quickly becomes a wild exciting ride that makes you sit on the edge of your seat. Definitely a fun read.
Susan Lee Thuener
Not what I expected.

Did not care for this one at all. Never did figure out who or what was the medium. The title indicates a supernatural story but after reading 5 chapters I have up.perhaps if I had read more it would have come together for me.
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast in parts, and slow in others, this tale does have a lot going for it.

There's a misunderstood hero, fast cars, a fiery battle, and ghostly interactions. I just couldn't get through it in one; I've read several other books in between chapters.
It's a good story all in all.
Edward Lee
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars

The perfect blend of fantasy and humor. Although it would be nice to know if the Bonetaker and Eric rekindled their previous friendly relationship. I so want that Neanderthal to experience some happiness!
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
Got off on a rip-roaring, hilarious start, but got so bogged down in the middle that I despaired of ever finishing it. Early promises of the framing and set up chapters was not sustained. Picked up a little at the end with some funny moments but alas, there were not enough of them.
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyable

Snappy quick read. Characters hit lows and highs and lows and highs again but continue to be engaging throughout. Quick enjoyable read. Looking forward to the next one.
Holly Bell
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was riveted, amused, on the edge of my seat, at times helpless with laughter and delighted with the ending. If you love comedy and the parnormal, the good guys being rewarded and the baddies coming to a stick end, do read this book.
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fresh and fun

I can't believe this is a first novel. The writing is consistently fun to read. I liked all the characters. Satisfying things happened. Many questions were answered. I'm headed straight to book 2.
Geoffrey Ferris
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It took me two chapters before I really started to enjoy this book, but after that it was excellent. I just was not in that, I'll just read one more chapter until I stop for today mood, until then.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So freaking good!!!

This book had a slow start that had me a bit confused but the writing was so good I had to see where it was going. It did not disappoint! I thoroughly enjoyed this ride and can’t wait to read more from this author!
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Madison Mega-Mara...: "The Unhappy Medium" by T. J. Brown 1 2 Nov 09, 2014 03:18PM  
Humor is My Genre: free Kindle- The Unhappy Medium 1 10 Sep 15, 2014 11:30AM  
Quirky humour: Free Kindle- The Unhappy Medium 1 6 Sep 15, 2014 11:26AM  
Atheists and Skep...: The Unhappy Medium 1 17 Sep 15, 2014 08:52AM  
Free Books, .99, ...: THE UNHAPPY MEDIUM.. giveaway in progress. 3 26 Apr 03, 2014 08:59AM  
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T J Brown was born in Dorset during the 1960s but was too young to realise how good the decade was meant to be. Instead, he had to make do with the 1970s, which only became interesting towards the end when many, Brown included, started wearing charity-shop clothes and swearing. Conscription into arts school was at this time mandatory and as a result Brown found himself reading German literature, c ...more
“As the old curator walked bow-backed down the High Street towards his small museum, he looked sadly up at the growing number of estate agent signs and narrowed his eyes; everything seemed to be changing. There were no market days anymore. The big supermarkets in Weymouth and Swanage had long since starved out the butcher, baker and greengrocer, while online shopping had comprehensively killed off the antique shop and the second-hand bookstore. The young families had all drifted off to Dorchester and Bournemouth in search of employment and homes in which you could stand upright. Langton Hadlow had begun to die. The” 0 likes
“Five pints later, Newton was wandering aimlessly around north London feeling a mix of euphoria, pointlessness and self-destructive nihilism that only comes from draught lager and/or a sudden unexpected familiarity with the afterlife.” 0 likes
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