The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman: Review

So this is my second Gaiman novel and before reading it I really didnt know what to expect. I recieved this book on Friday and finished it Saturday night and since that time I havent been able to stop thinking about the themes and nuances that colour the plot. My mind has been racing regarding the books meaning, I know that sometimes a story is just a story but the feel of this book was telling me that this was much more. I even woke up the other morning suddenly and had a thought that it could all be an analogy for death and what happens to us when we die and the lead up to it. Although thinking on this more I am more than unsure.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane begins with a prologue which serves as statement that not all memories are lost some just need a nudge. Then we join our Narrator (who is un-named) on a journey of self discovery as we see him from the perspective of a seven year old and the opening line of the first chapter which made me feel so sad, “Nobody came to my seventh birthday party.”
We follow the narrator, who is incredibly astute for a seven year old, and see how a major part of his childhood panned out. Not to mention his relationship with the Hempstocks who live down the lane, and we see out protagonist begin his blossoming friendship with Lettie Hempstock.

Our Narrator has a fairly normal life, that is until his father’s car is stolen, and from this point it all changes. Life, childhood, and aspects of Innocence when the realisation comes that monsters do actually exist and that their is much more to this world than meets the eye. The Hempstocks almost react to our Narrator as a sort of supernatural family, and accept him into their fold with open arms at all times and offer him guidance without explanation.

It is ostensibly an elegiac and cathartic read, this is coloured with shades and subtleties that honestly make this book like none that I have ever read before. I really liked the fact that Gaiman made the Narrator and his family without names because it showed that this could have been your story as a child.
As a child believing in things is very important and this novel really shows that with zest. There is no greater joy as a child to believe in things that could be seen as otherworldly. An aspect of our childhood that perhaps we should all embrace now and again, to stir the imagination and to awaken the magic in all things that surround us on a daily basis.
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane really touched me deeply and I feel that it will always have a special place for me in my heart and on my shelf.
The Ocean At The End Of Lane is a truly wonderful novel and I do look forward to whatever Gaiman does next.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is out now via Headline and you can find more about the works of Neil Gaiman here also the gentleman is on twittor @neilhimself

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2000 AD Prog 1900 – Perfect For New Readers!

Release Date: 24th September 2014 in print and digital

Published Weekly by Rebellion UK

Available from all good stockists

Next week sees the perfect opportunity to pick up 2000AD for the first time or if you have read it before and forgot about it, now is the time to return to the Galaxies greatest comic.
Prog 1900 has three new story arcs and is great for new readers to be introduced to the fantastic worlds of 2000AD

COVER 1900It features:

Judge Dredd – Block Judge  by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra 

Stickleback – The Thru’penny Opera by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli

Kingdom – Aux Drift by Dan Abnett and Richard Elson

It really is another important milestone for 2000AD. The fantastic cover is by Greg Staples and the new logo by lead 2000 AD designer, Pye Parr.

For me Stickleback is always a pleasure to read especially with D’Israeli’s fantastic artwork  and the character really has become one of my favourites from the vast array that 2000AD have. This will be the new readers chance to get in touch with some of the fantastic strips and the characters that feature in them. This is a mere taste of some of the wonders that 2000AD will have in store.

 

The Relic Guild by Edward Cox: Review

A great evil, a vast town in a strange world, a changeling, and a rather cool bounty hunter.
mixed all together these create some of the elements that are part of the The Relic Guild. The reader will notice that when you read this book, the featured complicated architectural and world building constructs make you feel a part of Labrys Town and as the pages turn one can see how these all function in Edward Cox’s vast and expanse universe.
Now, I love a maze. And reading The Relic Guild is like walking through a super cool maze. Discovering hidden passages, finding dead ends, not knowing where on earth you are going to end up, and then being chased by Jack Nicholson. Except that The Relic Guild doesnt have Jack Nicholson chasing people through Labrys Town (Although we can but hope for such in the sequel. Fingers crossed.)
In all seriousness Cox has created a superb maze-like and labyrinthian novel.

The reader will discover the world and its intricate inner workings through the eyes of some very interesting characters. Marney the empath, Old Man Sam the bounty hunter, and Peppercorn Clara a prostitute who can also change into a wolf. These three characters we meet at the start of the novel as well as the Illusionist Van Bam who is the Resident of the Timewatcher’s construct ‘The Nightshade’ which is a source of fear amongst the residents- or denizens as they are referred as in the story. The Timewatcher is the creator of magic and pure magic is wielded by the Thaumaturgists who are the most loyal subjects to the Timewatcher. The Timewatcher and her subjects were caught up in a war forty years ago with the Genii who are renegade Thaumaturgists and believe themselves to be the ones who should be calling the shots in the world.
The story takes place forty years on from the Genii War and then a series of flashbacks takes us back to see some of the characters overcome the trials of love and war. Also Old Man Sam is not so old.

The flashbacks are really written and give the reader a deeper understanding of the characters and the Labyrinth and how Labrys Town worked in the past and the comparisons that are drawn but with the focus being our main characters, as they are the magickers keeping everything safe or at least trying to. The book ends with the flashback guild and the current guild both in dangerous situations and leaves a very tasty cliffhanger.
With an ever-looming threat re-emerging the Relic Guild really do have their work cut out for them.

The Relic Guild leaves questions that will hopefully be answered in the sequel/s and there is one character I would really like to have seen more of.
Summed up The Relic Guild is like a twisting, looping, and flipping ride of a cosmic roller-wonder coaster and who knows where the author is going to take us in future books. I found that there was touches of an almost 2000AD influence with The Retrospective (a dangerous no mans land outside the labyrinth) being a kind of Cursed Earth and the novel did, at times, have a Doctor Who feel to it. See what you think.

The Relic Guild is out today (18th sept 2014) and is available from Gollancz Edward Cox is also on twitter @EdwardCox10 and keep an eye out on the blog for an upcoming interview with the author himself.the-relic-guide-cover1

The Shattered Crown by Richard Ford (Steelhaven Book 2): Review

Heroes must rise …

The King is dead. His daughter, untested and alone, now wears the Steel Crown. And a vast horde is steadily carving a bloody road south, hell-bent on razing Steelhaven to the ground.

Or the city will fall.

Before the city faces the terror that approaches, it must crush the danger already lurking within its walls. But will the cost of victory be as devastating as that of defeat?

Firstly, and this isnt a negative point at all, (Yeah, great start to this one, Romeo) I was rather silly and dived straight in to The Shattered Crown rather than having a bit of a re-read of Herald Of The Storm. And from starting it and beyond a series of pennies dropped as I slowly started remembering how much happened in the first book.
So, yeah. I may be teaching grandma to suck eggs, but I thought I would mention it.

Ahem!

Right … The Shattered Crown picks up from where we last left our motley crew of characters from book one. The horde is nearing the gates of Steelhaven and Amon Tugha is unrelenting. The King is dead and his daughter, Janessa, is earning her stripes as ruler of Steelhaven. She is not as fragile as she first seemed in book one and conveys an extraordinary strength to the crown and her people. Again, all the characters stories are intertwined, and the action of one certainly affects the other, and sometimes not for the better.
Rag the street urchin is in deep with the guild and is desperate to find a way out. Nobul Jacks, a war hero of Bakhaus Gate is struggling with the man he was and the man he is becoming especially after his son’s death. Merrick Ryder (who I am sure is named after one of the members of Adam Ant’s band) the drunk, gambler and whoremonger, who has now taken service under the queen’s Sentinels and is aided by his conscience, Kaira, the former shieldmaiden of Vorenna. Waylian Grimm of the Magisteria and his tutor the Red With And, not to mention the band of clawed and toothed warriors come to pledge their swords to the crown.

These characters are unforgettable in different ways and the favourites I had in book one have now changed somewhat. The Shattered Crown is a real glimpse of a city verging on all out war and how the people’s lives try to adapt to that fact. Ford has set up what promises to be a stunning conclusion and I await to see what happens to these characters. It still has its grimdark-ish qualities and this is not at all a bad thing because when the more darker moments happen i.e a rather gory kill or a rather descriptive bowel movement, It has more of an impact on the reader.

How will it all come together? What will happen when the Khurtas invade? Well, to this only Ford knows the answer and we have to wait till book three.

In conclusion it really is a great story with a brilliant cast facing the worst in the ways they know how and sometimes the unknown.

The Shattered Crown is out now from Headline the author can be found on twitter @Rich4ord and on his website shattered crown

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: Review

Under the streets of London…
its a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.
Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

I had never ever read anything by Neil Gaiman before this book. I had seen Stardust, Coraline, and Mirror Mask and enjoyed the mere glimpse that I had into Gaiman’s mind. There really was no reason for me to not pick a Gaiman novel up. So why didnt i?

The answer to this is I simply do not know. Its quite baffling really. As Im sure Mr Gaiman will be if he ever reads this. Baffled.
There has been many a time where this moustached man from Kernow has seen a Gaiman novel glinting at him in a book shop window and I simply have not taking the plunge, so to speak, and picked it up. Baffling.

Anyhoo. I finally made the brave decision to read a Gaiman and chose Neverwhere to start with this is the adaptation of the tv series of the same name that also passed me by.

Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, a young man who moves from Scotland to the big smoke of London. Richard is stuck in a rut doing the whole nine to five thang and being bossed around by his fiancee and the only sense of freedom this chap has is being able to collect trolls (not the things that live under bridges but the plastic cute things with the luminous hair) and this he only started because he came across one by accident. Or perhaps Richard is good at finding things?
Like the day that changed his life forever when he found an injured girl on the street that seemingly came from nowhere. Thus changing our protagonists life forever.

Gaiman’s world of London Below is a dangerous one in which its inhabitants could sell you a nightmare in The Floating Market (which changes destination everytime) or the darkness could carry you off over Night’s Bridge. But in a lot of ways Gaiman’s London Below exhibits a wonder and sense of magic that cannot be found in London Above.

Richard’s life changes and he becomes one of those that falls through the cracks faded from the existence of normal life. He goes in search of the girl he rescued. The young lady named Door who coincidentally can open any door even if its locked. Door, with the help of the the eccentric and enigmatic, Marquis de Carabas go on the hunt for the killers of Door’s family, aided by the warrior Hunter and young Richard tagging along behind. We meet a whole bunch of colourful and unforgettable characters in Neverwhere and I honestly could not pick a favourite as they are all brilliant.

I honestly devoured this book (not literally because that would give me indigestion) and I dont think it will be long before I give it a re-read. Its such a feel good read and Im reckoning there will be so many things that fell through the cracks (see what I did there?) the first time I read it.

I really couldnt give this book enough praise and Im really looking forward to my next read of a Gaiman novel. I am a believer.

Neverwhere is available from headline and the authors website can be found here also Mr Gaiman can be found on twitter @neilhimself

Control Point by Myke Cole (Shadow Ops Book 1): Review

All over the world people are ‘coming up latent’ –
developing new and terrifying abilities. Untrained and panicked, they are summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze.

US Army Lieutenant Oscar Britton has always done his duty even when it means working alongside the feared Supernatural Operations Corps, hunting down and taking out those with newfound magical talents. But when he manifests a rare, startling power of his own and finds himself a marked man ,all bets are off.

On the rub from his former colleagues, Britton is driven into an underground shadow world, where he is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known … and that his life isnt the only thing he’s fighting for.

I had first heard about this book from the lovely chaps at fantasy faction and put it in a stupidly long list in the deep recesses of my mind. About a couple of months ago something reminded me about Control Point, and I knew it was time to read it. And then I proceeded in kicking myself for not having read it sooner.

From the first sequence Myke Cole leaves you gripping the pages of your book -or if you are technologically adept, unlike myself- gripping the screen of your e-watsitmajig.
Think of the scene of ‘Apocalypse Now’ when the helicopters are soaring over the Nung River and blaring out Wagner’s Ride Of The Valkyries. Now take out the smell of napalm in the morning and Nam, and add a modern day setting, then add REAL magic to that little scenario! AND NO, NOT PAUL DANIELS OR BLAINE IN BOX ABOVE THE BLOODY THAMES. This is magic from the elements and magic that exists in the here and now!

Of course, you can just imagine it. Imagine if we all woke up to the news one morning and the headline read ‘MAGIC EXISTS’ there would be all kinds of legislation strapped to it and Control Point explores this in great detail as well as the ethics of magic and what should it be used for as well as if it should be used at all?
Myke Cole can have you pondering these questions from the first chapter and beyond.

Oscar’s struggle with his transition from soldier to a dangerous latent with the ability of Portamancy (gate magic) is so touching and there are so many times the reader can feel his pain with the changes and the difficult choices he has to make and sometimes unwillingly.
Oscars journey into a dark and dangerous world is accompanied by a cast of well written characters all of whom are latent and some of whom are more dangerous with and without magic, those being the witch or negramancer, Scylla, and the Chief Warrant Officer Fitzsimmons. One of my very favourite characters we meet when Oscar is forced to join the Shadow Coven in the Source, is Marty the Goblin, and I do hope nothing awful happens to him in the later books.

The third person prose style really works for the narrative of this novel and the pace did not drag for me at all.
This is such a strong start to what Im sure is going to be a very enjoyable series. And Cole leaves us at book one with so many questions and so many places to explore. And Im sure as hell going to be delving into two and three asap. And thats affirmative. Sir!

Needless to say that if I was ‘coming up latent’ I’d hope that it would be in Physiomancy for obvious reasons.

I want to mention that as well as being a super nice guy and a kick ass author, Myke has also served in the military and done two tours of Iraq, not to mention the countless other outfits he has been a part of. I would like to personally thank Myke for his bravery and service to his country.

Control Point is available from headline and for more information about the author check out Myke Cole’s site also the author can be found on twitter @MykeCole