(2016) M. Suddain, Jonathan Cape, £14.99, trdpbk, 504pp, ISBN 978-0-224-09705-5
Hunters and Collectors is the second novel by M. Suddain using the same writing style as its predecessor, Theatre of Gods. It uses the blank space of the pages and the stitched together written style to its advantage. Both techniques acting as narrative devices that further the well-paced plot forward; quickly setting up the background narrative as well as the world in which the story occurs. Written in letters, snippets from notebooks, scraps of conversations, lists and illustrations, this unconventional style makes for an interesting read that despite its discounted nature works an engaging novel.
John Tamberlain, more commonly known by his alias, The Tomahawk, is the universe’s most feared food critic and ‘forensic gastronomer’. Bored of his day-to-day exercises of eating the strangest and wildest food the restaurants of the worlds have to offer, shutting down said restaurants and being quite overly picky about what it is he needs when travelling, Tamberlain decides to embark on a detective, horror, science-fiction blurred quest to the much-storied ‘Hotel Grand Skies’. A place where the rich and famous seek, and are provided with, their wildest desires; where the staff are trained to enforce the house rules with a scarily brutal efficiency.
Pursued, framed, injured and thrown around along the way, Tamberlain does not lose focus, taking his agent, Daniel Woodbine (the Beast) and his bodyguard, Gladys Green, through the tricky fields of galactic politics in an attempt to review the unreviewable and prove to those whom doubted him that his crazy delusions are a truth that many a wealthy soul knows, merely does not speak of. Many a mysterious force of the unknown attempting quash his attempts and remove this upstart from his endeavour.
Having discovered the seemingly impossible, Tamberlain is quickly reminded that one should never meet their heroes. Nothing about the fated ‘Hotel Grand Skies’ being as was fabled; the seemingly perfectly merely a cleverly construction illusion designed to trap those whom enter inside with no possibility of escapes. All whilst coming across as a well providing, completely legitimate, understanding and apologetic service.
Populated with Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams-esque humour; the plot twists together a detective novel, science-fiction, urban fantasy and, horror using pasted together notes to create a plot that keeps you wanting more.
However, it is also the case that, due to the switching nature of the written style, the change from short snippets to pages of text, causes the novel to maintain middle drag. That despite continuing the storyline and narrative, does cause the reader to debated putting the book down; comments of the same nature being said of its previous Theatre of Gods.
And yet, Hunters and Collectors maintains an interesting narrative and original plot base that despite its criticisms and faults works as an engaging read. And whilst it can be said that Suddain’s writing style is tough to follow and/or connect with, due to its differing than usual nature, Hunters and Collectors is definitely one to read for those want to try something new in a sea of trope-filled, reader-honed novels that plague our shelves today.
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