Three Short Reviews: Ness, Fforde and Parker

The-Knife-of-Never-Letting-Go0The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first novel in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy. Marketed at young adults, this is still one of the darkest and most affecting novels I’ve read in a long time. The pace never lets up as our protagonist Todd finds himself on the run from the townspeople he’s grown up around. Set on a planet both earth-like and alien in nature, TKoNLG is a tense, harrowing read that deserves a completely fresh mindset going in. No spoilers here – mild or otherwise – but suffice to say I loved this book and will get on to the sequel, The Ask and The Answer just as soon as I can find the time.

Following on from my review of the first book in Jasper Fforde’s 9780340733578Thursday Next series – The Eyre Affair – last year, Lost in a Good Book finds Thursday pulled into an even stranger (believe it or not) sequence of events. Book 2 manages to expand on the crazy/weird/wonderful/zany/bonkers world of Thursday Next while offering up something completely new. The ultimate experiment in meta-meta-fiction, Thursday is literally drawn into a realm where classic novels – and their characters – exist for real, and they don’t always fill the roles expected of them. Look out for a scene-stealing Miss Havisham (yes, THAT Miss Havisham) and lots of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey book related bizarre-fiction, peppered with lots of humour. It’s really very funny and certainly acts as more of a part in an ongoing series, rather than The Eyre Affair’s previously standalone story. It’s both more of the same and completely different – and that seems pretty apt for an author like Jasper Fforde.

Academic_Exercises_by_K_J_Parker_200_287Purple and Black/Blue and Gold are a pair of novellas by K.J Parker, originally released as limited editions by Subterranean Press. They’re difficult to get ahold of individually, but luckily for YOU, Subterranean Press are releasing an omnibus of all Parker’s short stories/novellas/essays to date. Look out for Academic Exercises come July/August. Purple and Black is an epistolary novella that focuses on the war dispatches sent between an emperor and his general in the field. For each entry there is a short, official military dispatch written in purple ink; but next to it – written in black ink (duh) – are the less official personal dispatches between these two old friends. As ever, Parker’s writing is top-notch and clever to the point of annoying for any other writer out there, and slowly reveals both the world, relationships and underlying conspiracies behind the dispatches. Superb stuff. Blue and Gold is Parker’s more direct attempt at using an unreliable narrator. Saloninus tells us at the beginning of the story that he is unreliable, and goes on to account his time as court alchemist and his attempts to turn base metals into gold. The tale unravels in bits and pieces, with Saloninus ever reminding us of his nature and when the big twist comes it’s suitably…Parker. One of the classic ‘last lines’ it’s another to look forward to in Academic Exercises.