Fiction Reviews

The Slow Regard of Silent Things

(2014) Patrick Rothfuss, Gollancz, £12.99, hrdbk, 159pp, ISBN 978-1-473-20932-9


This review almost didn’t happen. Not because I did not enjoy the book – though I did find it not the easiest of reads – but because of what the author writes in the Foreword: First, if you haven’t read my other books, you don’t want to start here.

And I haven’t.

But there we are. And I thought, ‘It has been sent, so why not?’ And so here we really are.

This slim novella tells of Auri, of whom the Foreword says is one of the characters in some of his other books. Auri seems to inhabit an underworld, and the book spans a week in her life. A week spent waiting for ‘him’, and while she waits, she explores her underworld (described as the Underthing), finding things that might please ‘him’ when he comes. One of the things she finds is a broken cog-wheel, which she is especially pleased with.

The book has a certain ethereal quality, almost dream-like. There is also an aspect which you could either view as being some kind of religious action or as a form of OCD. Auri is constantly washing/cleansing herself as she moves through various rooms in the underworld, a sense that without these actions she will not be acceptable to ‘him’.

It transpires that this Underthing is below the basement of a university, but where and how life goes on above is not explained. Auri’s life is one of washing, exploring and waiting for ‘him’.

It is perhaps the simplicity of the tale (and telling) that I struggled with, rather than the missing information – for the most part, if you only watch part of a film or a TV program you can still enjoy what you see, and can often fill in at least some of details. But there were times that the book felt like an attempt at a modern fairy-tale, and compared to some of the stories of Angela Carter or Joyce Carol Oates it didn’t work for me.

But there was one aspect that I thoroughly enjoyed; the illustrations by Nate Taylor. These enhanced the telling of the story, and never distracted. I came away feeling that more books could benefit from such a sensitive addition.

And one gripe. Maybe I am an old fuddy-duddy, remembering the days of the two-and-sixpence paperback, but £12.99 for this small volume…! I know publishers have to make some profit, but

All-in-all I enjoyed this book in the end; whether I will look out for the principle volumes in this series, I am not so sure.

Peter Young

[Up: Fiction Reviews Index | SF Author: Website Links | Home Page: Concatenation]

[One Page Futures Short Stories | Recent Site Additions | Most Recent Seasonal Science Fiction News]

[Updated: 15.4.15 | Contact | Copyright | Privacy]