I am having a few days off at the moment and so catching up on some long overdue reading.
I have been able to read The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee (Angry Robot, £8.99). I picked this up browsing in Blackwell a while ago. A mixture of nineteenth century fairy tales and modernism, it tells the stories of three people – Jonathan, Mirror and Goliath – and the way that they respond to life or lack of it.
Ambitiously the book uses both nineteenth and twentieth century narrative structures and typesetting tricks to embed the reader in the world. The novel comes across as whimsical but there is a delicious thread of horror which builds up but does not swamp the rest of the novel. At the end of this novel I was reminded that I should reread the Gail Carriger novels (I have a new series of these to read as well), or perhaps Jesse Bullington’s first novel. Egypt continues to overshadow the weird fantastic.
At the suggestion of a post by Farah Mendlesohn, I read the Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley (Bloomsbury Circus, £12.99). I ought to re-read this soon but it is an impressive first novel that crosses UK and Japan. She creates a wonderful historical fantasy with touches of steampunk and conspiracies. I do wonder if there is some Joseph Conrad about the book, crossing cultures and appearing to enjoy itself.
I saw a mention of Genevieve Cogman‘s The Invisible Library (Tor UK, £7.99). Ostensibly about the search for a forbidden book through a multiverse. Superficially this book is about the journey of Irene, a professional spy, and Kai, a “distinctly not what he appears to be” assistant, to find a book for their library employers. It would be easy to ignore Cogan’s musing on the nature of reading, where the reader takes pleasure in crossing through multiverse of the genres and types. Our reading and rereading takes into new place and times, allowing us to search and enjoy the search. Rather than disappear into a pseudo- Umberto Eco or Alberto Manguel reading, I am looking forward to other volumes in this series. There are some ambitious ideas in this novel that are in skeleton form. I look forward to the stop motion of seeing it animated as I read more.