Friday, 7 June 2013

The Wanderer in Unknown Realms: John Connolly

John Connolly
The Wanderer in Unknown Realms

I’m having trouble with Kindle Singles - they’re either so short they’re barely a short story, or they really need to be a novel to do the subject justice.  You just don’t know what you’re getting.   The Wanderer in Unknown Realms is John Connolly’s much publicised Kindle Single, a horror story of novella length that should really be a novel.  He’s a brilliant writer, so I wasn’t surprised to be engaged with a world of Dickensian characters (the lawyer Quayle, the sinister booksellers Dunwidge and Daughter) all caught up in a spine tingling plot.  Soter - a world war one veteran, shell-shocked and bereaved, works as a private detective and takes on the case of missing Lionel Maulding, an elderly country gentlemen with a taste for antiquarian books.

Soters search takes him into the world of arcana and rare occult books.  Soon he begins to experience the occult world for himself and has moments when he doubts his sanity.  Lionel Maulding had been on the trail of a book so rare, so dangerous, that it has eluded generations of occult specialists.  The Atlas of Unknown Realms has the power to change the space time continuum and re-write the nature of reality.  Soter soon has reason to fear that the book has been found and opened when time begins to bend around him and horrific creatures materialise out of the darkness.
At this point I was really gripped.  I wanted to know what had happened to Lionel Maulding and how the world was going to be saved - hopefully by Soter.  But the novella’s ending is a complete let-down and unfortunately ruined the whole for me.  Maybe others will disagree. I’m not going to do a spoiler - but I think it was a cop-out!

There are wonderful, creepy illustrations by Emily Hall that make the production of this book a class act.

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