The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award isn’t just about literary debuts – occasionally, young writers can be prolific and I am pleased that there has been some recognition on this year’s shortlist for Claire North, a pseudonym for Catherine Webb. Webb/North has somehow found the time to publish several science fiction and fantasy novels under her own name and two pseudonyms, writing her first book when she was just 14 and is best known for ‘The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’. Her latest novel ‘The End of the Day’ begins with an intriguing premise in which Charlie is the Harbinger of Death, living in Dulwich and answering to his boss, Death, at head office in Milton Keynes, travelling around the world usually to meet people before their lives end: “sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning”. However, the demands of the job begin to take their toll on Charlie and put a strain on his relationship with his girlfriend Emmi. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Fantasy
I reread the His Dark Materials trilogy in July in anticipation of the release last month of the first volume of the new Book of Dust trilogy by Philip Pullman which he describes as an “equel” to stand alongside ‘His Dark Materials’ as neither a prequel or a sequel. This particular volume is set before the events in ‘His Dark Materials’ in Lyra’s universe when she is a baby and features 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead, son of a local pub landlord, who ends up supplying information to a resistance group attempting to subvert the Magisterium, a powerful church authority. With the help of Alice, an older girl who works at the pub with him, and his trusty canoe named La Belle Sauvage, they seek to protect baby Lyra from the church, and specifically from the clutches of Gerard Bonneville and Lyra’s mother, Mrs Coulter. Continue reading
This month, I’ve broken the habit of a (five-year blogging) lifetime and reread the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy by Philip Pullman ahead of the publication of ‘La Belle Sauvage’, the first volume of the Book of Dust trilogy later this year. The first book in the series ‘Northern Lights’ is set in a parallel universe similar to ours but different in many ways and introduces twelve-year-old Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon companion Pantalaimon who travel to the North Pole to rescue her friend Roger from the Gobblers who are carrying out experiments on children. In ‘The Subtle Knife’ and ‘The Amber Spyglass’, Lyra meets Will Parry and they travel between different universes including our own in pursuit of the meaning of Dust. Continue reading
I’ve had mixed views about Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels in the past. I was baffled by ‘Never Let Me Go’ but enjoyed it, I was even more baffled by ‘The Unconsoled‘ and enjoyed it much less. I liked ‘When We Were Orphans’ but thought it wasn’t quite as good as ‘The Remains of the Day’ which I think is a modern classic. My initial thoughts on his latest novel ‘The Buried Giant’ definitely lean more towards bafflement than enjoyment.