Kate O'Hanlon's Reviews > Tamburlaine Must Die

Tamburlaine Must Die by Louise Welsh
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's review
Oct 02, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, mystery, lgbt, tudor-culture-and-politics
Read on February 11, 2012

My consumption of fictional accounts of the exciting life of Christopher Marlow (or Marly or Morley or Marle as every writer must point out again and again) continues. Somewhat unsuccessfully this time.

This is dreadful. Elizabethan and contemporary turns of phrase rub up awkwardly against one another. You don't have to write like an actual Elizabethan to make the prose feel authentic, but there is a way to blend Elizabethan language and syntax with something a modern reader won't be too alienated by. I'm not suggesting that I could do it, but better writers have, and Welsh, here, has not. And even I would no better than to have Marlow call a sexual act 'face-fucking.'

The plot is interesting, and it's one of the delights of reading a lot of fiction about the life of Marlow to see which historical characters get picked up as allies, which as lovers and which as villains and who is given the blame for Marlow's murder. Unfortunately there's just not enough space in 150 pages for Welsh's incarnations to breath. The revelation at the end could, and should I suspect, be shattering, but it's telegraphed too early and the confrontation is delayed, all pretence of competent characterisation collapses and I just did not care.

Do your self a favour and read A Dead Man in Deptford instead.
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