Gorgeous cover. Everything I read by Tchaikovsky so far was very good. And it‘s amazing, how different Tchaikovsky sounds in this book compared to some of his other offerings. In a good way. Just not my way.
In the first few pages it felt as if I had stumbled into something written by Joseph Conrad. With a not very likable MC, who thought too highly of his own intelligence, status and education. And a few pages later, when we reached The Island, I had to think of Papillon by Henri Charriere.
When I picked up this book, I thought I was getting apocalyptic SF. And there were brief glimpses…
”The morning sun was rising from behind the trees like a bloated red mushroom. The mists that hung about the jungle were the colour of blood. I have heard that the sun is dying by degrees, swelling up with some illness and parching the land into the lifeless deserts you find to the west of the city.”
What shall I call this? Period-drama fantasy with a pinch of SF? I dragged myself until the middle of the book, until I was ready to admit that this was not working for me. It‘s not horrible, Tchaikovsky can write. It’s just not the least bit what I expected or wanted. I am not a fan of ponderous exposition, cruelty or prison settings. Perhaps I should look more closely at book blurbs and tags again.
There were elements that I found interesting enough to not abandon the book completely. Instead I skimmed very, very heavily. I obviously missed a lot, but I picked up some very inventive details. The last 10% of the book I read a little more carefully and actually liked. I can understand why some of my reading buddies loved this book. It was just not my kettle of
fish swamp monster.