Fiction Reviews


Anarchy

(2013) James Treadwell, Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99, hrdbk, 440pp, ISBN 978-1-444-72851-4

 

Anarchy is the second in a trilogy. I have not read the first book, so if you feel that my review is judging the book in the wrong context, you are welcome to take that view.

The book starts with Canadian police officer Marie-Archange Maculloch, nicknamed Goose dealing with the disappearance of Jennifer Knox from a locked police cell on an island of the coast of Canada. Searching for her, Goose thinks she sees her heading out to another island on a kayak. Then a boy from Cornwall is found by a beached whale. A ferry arrives with all passengers missing except for one blind woman. This is against the background of a force called the plague disrupting computers and electronic communication.

This first part was the best of the book for me. I enjoyed the lead character and the setting on the island community. Then the book switches to England, which is trying to have a breakdown of society. First the narrative focus on a young girl Marina, the daughter of a water spirit who leaves her house to search for her friend. Then it shifts to concentrate on Iseult a woman who became the adopted mother of Gavin, a character from the first book. She leaves London and her unpleasant husband to go down to Cornwall to search for him.

And it is at this point when the novel lost my interest. It is very well written and has some good descriptions of abandoned places. However to me, it just felt as if everybody is wondering around to pad out the page count. It feels even more annoying because Goose was a more interesting character in a more interesting setting then these two. The scenes where fairy creatures appear are interesting with fresh approaches and a sense of danger about them. But they are too few and far between. Eventually Marina and Iseult meet up but by then, the damage has been done. The narrative then switches back to Goose after roughly two hundred pages then to Marina and Iseult and back again for the climax.

While Tredwell clearly has talent, this book still feels prey to the common fault of middle books in a trilogies. A sense that this is basically everybody runs up and down to just pad out the narrative. It also has the problem that it feels like this was a story set on an island off the coast of Canada that had another different story shoved in to bulk out the pages. Iím not saying that you cannot have novels with two stories that seem unrelated at first but they have linked better than through strange phone calls.

This book left me with no desire to check out the other two in the trilogy. If you want a novel which combines two seemingly unrelated narratives, read Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. If you want a trilogy featuring magic returning and technology weakening, read 'The Age of Misrule' series by Mark Chadbourn.

David Allkins


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