Only two books this month, though they were long and made for slow reading.
The Fisherman, John Langan
This took me a long time to get through, not because of the book but because of a holiday and other things going on although I will admit I’m not a huge fan of first person, which can make some books sound more tell than show. That’s the case here, though I’m unsure if third person would have worked. The story is told in three parts, first and last by Abe, the book’s main character, and the Middle by someone Abe and his fishing buddy meet, when we learn the legend surrounding Dutchman’s Creek. This structure removes one from the story a little in that I found myself far more interested in past characters and events than those of the present ones. I also found the sex scene towards the end gratuitous. Fans of Lovecraft type literary tales should love this book. For others who don’t like the gothic slow burn they may not appreciate it so well. The world the author creates, he brought to life, and the narrative invoked all the right imagery. It’s an excellent book — fantastical, imaginative, dark, visceral in places, subtle in others, mythological, epic — and the right reader will love it. The end was satisfying, though left me questioning the fate of the world, and the possibility of one the horrors presented ever bleeding to a greater degree into our reality.
1610 A Sundial in a Grave, Mary Gentle
This is quite a blend of historical fiction with touches of fantasy and eroticism with some scenes that may shock some readers; a love story with duels and plenty of political intrigue and conspiracies. You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re reading a gay romance to begin with, but then the book takes a turn. That’s not to say it’s an easy read. Often I get through 100 pages a day, even when it’s a complex plot, but found I needed to take my time with this. This mostly gripped me, but there was a sense of wondering whether I’d ever finish, although it’s hard to say why. I’ve read books more involved than this, but some scenes felt needlessly long. I can’t help feeling I’m doing the book a disservice by saying some pages flashed by, others were a slow amble, and the tone of the book changed throughout, which also threw me. The author is meticulous, maybe overly so, but I found sticking with this worthwhile. A story that begins in France with the arrangement of an assassination moves on across the world.