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Under the Pendulum Sun

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  2,392 ratings  ·  623 reviews
Catherine Helstone's brother, Laon, has disappeared in Arcadia, legendary land of the magical fae. Desperate for news of him, she makes the perilous journey, but once there, she finds herself alone and isolated in the sinister house of Gethsemane. At last there comes news: her beloved brother is riding to be reunited with her soon - but the Queen of the Fae and her insane ...more
Paperback, 409 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Angry Robot
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Dolores Grant Some are real, such as chapter 13, which opens with Peter Shelley's Queen Mab, and chapter 14, which opens with Poe's The Raven. But most come from fi…moreSome are real, such as chapter 13, which opens with Peter Shelley's Queen Mab, and chapter 14, which opens with Poe's The Raven. But most come from fictitious books, and are used to explain tidbits of this world's alternate history (less)
Katja H An audiobook version definitely exists, I just finished listening to it on Scribd.

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Average rating 3.46  · 
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 ·  2,392 ratings  ·  623 reviews

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Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, fantasy
I am conflicted. And as is customary in such cases here are my thoughts, first in listform and then more elaborated.

Wonderfully atmospheric
Convincingly gothic
Interesting world building

That super gross twist (mostly this).

I found the premise to be absolutely wonderful: Catherine Helstone is on her way to visit her brother Laon - a Reverend and missionary. When she arrives nothing it quite what it seems - the housekeeper is elusive, her brother is gone, and the place she fi
Stephen Robert Collins
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Six weeks ago I meet young woman in Darlington Waterstones I started talking as you do about books & she said you must try this young author From Durham City if like fantasy she said it was her best friend she wrote the He titled down,I ordered at the local Libuary & forgot all about till it came in
This is that book. The lesson here speak to strangers in book shops if they are buying books you have read.
This is a what if book.......
In 1843 Loan Helstone a missionary instead of going to deepes
“Saints have further to fall. This place breaks saints. But you and I,” I gave a grim smile, “we have nothing to fear.”
Ummm I'm not if I want to run around the streets with this book in my hand screaming 'UNDERRATED' and thrusting this book in hands of any willing person or buy every other copy of this novel which is ever printed and then steal Jeannette Ng's mind and then run away to a forest. Because damn this book is very very very underrated but it's not for everyone.

Under the P
K.J. Charles
In which a pair of Victorian missionary siblings set out to convert the Fae to Christianity. This is a genius idea, colliding Victorian evangelical-colonial smugness with a world too strange and powerful for them to comprehend.

It's an odd book in some ways. The pacing is slow in the first half, as the location and characters are pretty static, and there's a lot of theology, in which it's very true to the earnest Victorian novels it riffs on. There's a great sense of creeping menace though, and
Stylish, richly imagined and lush with beautiful details… This might just be my favorite historical fantasy novel since “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell”, which is saying something. Also, that cover art is straight up amazing and I can’t stop looking at it.

The celebrated Captain Cook filled in many blanks on the world map during his perilous expeditions. But his final and most mysterious voyage took him to Arcadia, the land of the Fae; a continent that can only be accessed in the trickiest ways
May 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, horror
"Two-thirds of the way through Shirley Caroline Helstone's eyes change from brown to blue. This is not an unparalleled phenomenon in a novel. In Shirley however it is unexpected, for here Charlotte Brontë is much occupied with the looks of her characters."
-- from the abstract to J M S Tompkins, 'Caroline Helstone's Eyes' Brontë Society Transactions Volume 14, 1961, Issue 1

I very much wanted to like this novel. Described as a 'gothic fantasy with a theological twist' Under a Pendulum Sun paraded
Samantha Shannon
A fresh and clever take on the ever-popular Fae, Under the Pendulum Sun is a twisted Gothic nightmare that has shot up there to become one of my favourite books of all time, and I do not say that lightly. The pitch – two Victorian missionaries attempting to convert Queen Mab and her Fae to Christianity – sounds almost too good to be true, but trust me, it more than lives up to it. You can tell Jeannette Ng has done meticulous research into this time period. Set in the eerie realm of Arcadia, her ...more
A.M. Steiner
This gothic tale is stylishly told; imaginative and full of wondrous imagery. In rich prose, it details the adventures of a young lady who enters the land of the fae in search of her brother, a missionary who has gone missing. The premise is great, and the language is lovely, but unfortunately, after a strong first three chapters, the story turns slight and painfully slow. It's also curiously devoid of any sense of conflict. The book seems to assume that in-depth theological conversations and an ...more
Nicholas Perez
Jun 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.95/5 stars.

In 1847, the same year Jane Eyre was published, the missionary Laon Helstone sets off for Arcadia, also called Elphane, the land of the fae. He goes after the Missionary Society loses contact with its previous missionary Reverend Roche. Catherine "Cathy" Helstone writes to her brother to fill his absence. But soon, the letters stop. And then Cathy heads for Arcadia herself. Once there, a changeling maid named Ariel Davenport takes her to the castle where Laon and the previous rever
Lady H
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I first finished this book, I commented here that I felt like I required an academic article in order to properly understand everything referenced. I am still convinced of that; this Kafkaesque novel is one of the most dense, erudite stories I've ever come across. The summary is, I think, a tad misleading, as it seems to hint at some sort of chase, but there is little to no movement at all in Under the Pendulum Sun. The novel takes place entirely in Gethsemane, a classic Gothic castle that ...more
Rod Duncan
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Some stories sell themselves in a sentence. I mean, Snakes on a Plane, right? You hear the title and you think, I’ve got to see that. I may hate myself afterwards. I probably will. But I need to know.

I had the same experience when I heard Marc Gascoigne last year describing a new acquisition by Angry Robot. “Nineteenth Century Christian missionaries travel to Arcadia to convert the Fae.”

A brilliant idea. Marc said he almost bought it on the strength of the pitch. But would the story live up to
Allison Hurd
Oct 29, 2020 rated it did not like it
Time of death: 52%

So, nothing has happened, despite some great scenery and what I thought might be hints of things about to happen, and the twist is full on squicky and predictable. Let's also not forget the literal preaching and endless prattle about different theologians. Bleh.

I've taken my time reading this because I've been sick and because the festive season can be more distracting than enabling. But I don't think this has done the book any harm - it's a bit like reading a snow globe, a magical, distracting, half-seen whirl of ideas and promises as its protagonist ventures into Faerie to find her brother the missionary and save the souls of the Fae. Needless to say, what she finds is not what she expects, but the book does wonders in giving you glimpses of the nigh ...more
Edward Rathke
Jan 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
Sort of an odd book. I loved the first 100 pages, was still on board for the next hundred, but became less and less interested in the novel as it went. I probably should have quit during a big reveal towards the middle, but I kept going, only to find that reveal even dumber in retrospect.

See, this is a really difficult book to talk about without spoiling something, so I'm just going to use the spoiler tag and crack into it.

(view spoiler)
Its closest antecedents are Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, especially the former, to whose narrative beats it holds up a twisted funhouse mirror and which it sometimes quotes almost-verbatim in its lampshading way; elements of Goblin Market and Tam Lin are also mixed in, together with some impressively original world-building drawn from Ng's own imagination. I would contend that Matthew Lewis's The Monk is also a direct ancestor, though. Not a book for kids or the faint of heart (it takes a th ...more
Apr 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021, fae
This meandering book won me over on its first pages. I have not read a book this specifically written for me in some time. (historical fantasy fiction, actually creepy fae, woman pacing the twisted corridors of a Gothic castle, Victorian missionaries, discussions of theology and commentary on colonialism, colonial imagination and the ethics of missionary work all in one book?) The second half was a MESS, both the pacing and *that twist*. Still, an instant favorite.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written story of a pair of missionaries to Arcadia, with a (misguided, smug, arrogant) desire to convert the fae to Christianity. Reverend Laon Helstone has been in Arcadia for months, and his sister Catherine arrives in the land because she hasn't heard from him for a long time.
She's met by a changeling, Ariel Davenport, and taken to the home/castle where Loan has been staying. Catherine arrives and is then kept practically captive there, waiting for Laon. Catherine occupies herself
Jul 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Missionaries in a fairyland. Just reading this sentence gave me goosebumps. A brother and sister with an incestous vibe, in an omnious castle in the middle of the changing fog. Theological discussions with gnomes. Interesting, no? Eeh..

This is a book with a really interesting premise, dragging plot, and characters so mysterious you stop caring what happens to them.

The plot twists were surprising only to the characters, and the way some of the themes were handled was just... off. The emotions we
Andi C Buchanan
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As someone with pet snails named Laon and Cythna I was predisposed to like this book. It surpassed my hopes. Nothing has affected my sleeping and waking worlds - and my inability to distinguish between the two - since that one Doctor Who story with neanderthals from Java. Under the Pendulum Sun is smart, rich, fantastically referential, and gloriously messed up. I would give it more than five stars if I could.
Aug 05, 2018 added it
with a combination of Christian theology and fairy themes, here you find a world that feels more like a dream. almost claustrophobic with its strange creatures and fae politics. hauntingly beautiful and gothically atmospheric.

I honestly crave more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Umm, wow.

This might be the strangest book I've ever read.

I wasn't sure I even liked it until about pg 342. Up until then, I'd been reveling in the world-building, but put off by the plot and MC. Not the whole plot, just the spoilery part that gave me the ewws. Not the whole MC, but the droopy and oh woe is me bits required for gothic drama.

But, the spoilery ick turned out to be necessary, as I hoped it would, and all was well under heaven and hell. I am a convert.

Super points to the author for
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Eerie, frightening, and cleverly written. Starts with a slow narrative of a Victorian novel to surprise and dazzle with plot twists. I've been yelling about the book on Twitter and telling my friends to read it - I want to discuss it all, the hints and references, the disturbing imagery and emotional impact, and just collectively squee about HOW GOOD it is. ...more
Rachel Noel
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
*Free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Let me start out by saying: Holy wah. Holy wah! Holy WAH! This book was an amazing read! I can't remember the last time I was tempted to take a day off work just to finish a book! There were so many things to think about and work through! I generally highlight parts of a book that make me think, or to look up later, or that might be clues for the overall story. Usually I highlight just a few things overall. I swear I highlighted almost half the book ju
Kari Rhiannon (Moon Magister Reviews)
Content Warnings: Incest and body horror.

This is such a strange book. The basic premise is that the Sister of one of the first missionaries to the fae land of Arcadia goes to find her absent brother. She finds a delightfully dark and bizarre world with an ancient crumbling house and a inhuman queen. It has an incredible and rich gothic religious atmosphere.

However, and don’t read on if you don’t like spoilers...

A large part of the plot revolves around incest. It’s a common plot device in these k
Megan Baxter
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I haven't written all the reviews for Hugo-nominated works and authors yet, but I have now read them all and put my ballot together, which was very exciting. It's going to take me a few days to catch up on writing about the books I pushed to finish on time, and here was one of the late entries. It was also one I like a whole heck of a lot. Jeannette Ng was nominated for the Campbell Award this year, and I think this is a very strong contender in that category.

Note: The rest of this review has be
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: disco-inferno
the pacing of the last half is fucked (literally cut 100 pages from part 3) but "victorian christian missionaries take their victorian christian missionary hubris to FAIRYLAND" is the best concept i've heard in at least a year and the execution is SO tailored to me, from dante jokes to the heroine running anguished down the halls in a nightgown to her hot priest brother's hot priest crises. and somehow - somewhere between the deeply in-depth backbone of research that informs it and the highly ma ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-releases
I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley for review.
Video review here:

Under the Pendulum Sun is a dark, psychological fantasy in a gothic vein, paying considerable literary homage to authors such as the Brontës. Impressively, Jeannette Ng manages to keep her debut novel grounded in historical reality despite its taking place entirely in the faelands. She accomplishes this by immersing us entirely in the Victorian missionary mindset of her characters,
Mohammed Arabey
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
First quarter (3 ☆)/ The Middle Half (2 ☆)/ The Last quarter (5 ☆)

Claustrophobic atmosphere Under the Pendulum Sun.... a very daring bold mix between theology and fantasy, the fae and souls and salvation... Adam and Eve..the first sin..
A bold re-writing of the Genesis and the creation of the world in the point of view of Faes..and it's shocking..
But alas all that happens only by the last quarter...after prolonged chapters where mostly not much happening or too weird and creepy events to not-tha
Heather M
what a weird-ass book, i had a great time, mostly because i was constantly gaping at how creative this is, how sharp and how perfectly gothic. jeannette ng can write her ass off, the research and craft and cheekiness are simply a cut above. the discussions about theology were also really cool to read as someone who went to catholic school lol.

there are some fucked up twists here that you simply must be prepared for. some of them aren't really twists so much as, things screaming at me from the pa
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
this book was really well written and atmospheric and great but the main reason it's 4 stars is because i really respect creating an entire complex mythology and going absolutely bonkers with worldbuilding and having your incest kink at the heart of everything. perfect. no notes. like all the horny gays who built enormous fuck-off churches in europe. gay rights ...more
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Jeannette Ng is originally from Hong Kong but now lives in Durham, UK. Her MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies fed into an interest in medieval and missionary theology. She runs live roleplay games and used to sell costumes for a living.

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