A very good book: a beautiful book. A book about isolation and being at peace with that: it’s perhaps fitting that I read it on the eve of 2nd Lockdown. I liked it.
A lot of fans of Jonthan Strange and Mr Norrell – who've been looking forward to this book for years - will be disappointed that it’s not set in their 'verse. I think, from the hints about the subject matter that have emerged from time-to-time, that there was some expectation that it would be set on Strange’s Faerie Roads. That's certainly what I expected. It's refreshing to get something different. If anything, it reminds me of books by David Mitchell: and that’s not a bad thing.
I’d deliberately avoided reading any reviews or anything that might have given a synopsis; and I’m glad. Not that I like to read reviews anyway (at least for fiction). I’m not terribly interested in what other people think, preferring to form my own opinion on something as subjective as fiction. Professional reviews are bad enough, but Goodreads is the worse. I use it as a useful tool, but the reviews! When they’re not just gushing fans, they’re people churning out half-remembered and never-fully-understood concepts from High School: talk of ‘poor characterisation’ and ‘crass diction’, etc.
A young scholar becomes obsessed with an ancestor who practiced the Dark Arts. A newly-discovered portrait shows an uncanny likeness between the two. What could possibly go wrong?
Despite everything about Lovecraft, it must be admitted that he writes well. Although the reader has a pretty good idea of what's going on from the very beginning, tension is held as the protagonist gradually uncovers the dreadful truth.
It took me a while to get into this (a couple of months on these round-ups!), but having done so, it was very interesting.
Another thing (along with the Norfolk Admirals) which has been languishing by my bedside for months. I decided to finish it off on finding out that Issue 3 is now out (in pdf at least).
A very good summary of the naval side of the Anglo-Dutch Wars - despite the title, almost the first half of the (short) book deals with the first two (which is fair enough, they can't be taken in isolation).
Purely narrative: don't come to it expecting any analysis.