The Ferryman Institute by Colin Gigl, published by Gallery Books, is a delight to read. The cover and the blurb drew me in while I was browsing books, so I was expecting something interesting. It was Colin Gigl’s excellent plot, world building and characterisation that kept me reading, though. This book is fantastic. It is thoughtful, complex, frustrating and often hilarious. Gigl delivers on every promise the jacket blurb offers, but he enhances it, elevates it, and ascends the book with his strategic use of emotional highs and lows and an enviable control of conflict. This book, suffused with death, becomes more about the gift that life is; something that really resonated with me.Read More »
The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher began publication with Storm Front, the first novel in the series, in April 2000 through Roc Books. As of today there are 15 novels published, with Skin Game being the most recent and the upcoming novel Peace Talks TBD. When I thought about making a new style of post, a spotlight, the Dresden Files sprung immediately and irresistibly to mind as the best possible way to inaugurate it. So while I’m finishing the book I’m going to review next, I’m going to talk instead about one of my all-time favourite series of novels.
The Dresden Files follow the titular lead, Harry Dresden. He is a Wizard. He is a private investigator. He is a black sheep. He flouts secrecy, thumbs his nose at the conservative and secretive hegemony of the White Council of Wizards, and you can find him in the Chicago phonebook under W for Wizard. Harry is an antiauthoritarian in the eyes of the White Council, a thorn in their side, a potentially deadly foe. But he is also a new Wizard for a new age. He not only wields mysterious and arcane powers, he also doesn’t mind revolvers.Read More »
Stallo, by Stefan Spjut, was a book I picked up on a whim. A new release with compelling quotes on the cover and an almost irresistible blurb on the back. It was creepy, disturbing and suggestive of what to expect, but the book is quite different to what the jacket suggests. I went in expecting horror, but what the book ended up being was more of a meditation on Scandinavian folklore, and it’s place in modern Sweden. This isn’t a bad thing, it is an interesting concept and the exploration of it is verdant ground for a story. The problem lies more in the cognitive dissonance caused by the promise of the jacket and the actual content of the story. Stallo suffers from an identity crisis.Read More »
I’m not sure where to start with this book, because revealing too much would definitely spoil certain points in the story for a new reader. I’ll just start by saying that The Last Days of Jack Sparks, by Jason Arnopp, is fantastic. It is hilarious, frustrating, irritating and heartbreaking. If you enjoyed John Dies at the End by David Wong, you’re probably going to love this. Be cautious though; while John Dies at the End is hilarious the whole way through, Jack Sparks will upset you.
The meta-fictional approach is an interesting one. Jason Arnopp has created an entire mythology surrounding Jack Sparks. There is a website in conjunction with the book, and it’s all maintained and curated in his name. There are contributions throughout the novel from his brother, notes to his editor and communications with his agent; they all provide a realistic grounding to the book, a convincing counterweight that breathe life into Jack and his world. I found the whole idea enthralling. It blurs the lines between fiction and reality. I first heard about the book when I saw a tweet by Orbit Books linking to an extract of an email chain between Sparks and his agent. The entries by Sparks to his battered and long-suffering agent drip with bravado and arrogance, and as soon as I saw it I knew that this was something special.Read More »