White Apples (2003) Jonathan Carroll, Tor, £10.99, pbk, 259pp, ISBN 0-333-98983-X
Vincent Ettrich has died but come back to life along with an acquaintance, Bruno, but neither can remember being dead, nor what they learned while they were dead. But Vincent quickly learns that the lover who he left his wife for, Isabelle, is pregnant with his child, Anjo, and that it is his unborn son who has resurrected him. It seems that the cosmic mosaic is in danger and only Anjo can save it, always providing that his father can teach him what he learned while he was dead...
This contemporary fantasy is another triumph of Carroll's imagination and wit. The anatomy of a relationship is examined with sympathy and care, while the magical plot slides into the modern world without causing ripples. By turns hilarious and dramatic this is another dose of insight into, and empathic love for, life and the relationships it throws up. Carroll's characters and their motivations are instantly recognisable, even if the world they inhabit is full of fantastic quirks. This is, I think, Carroll's 14th book and it seems he just keeps getting better and better. For those who prefer their fantasies without kingdoms, dragons and swordplay, this is highly recommended.
This is one of the lead titles for the launch of the Tor imprint in the UK (following a distribution deal with Pan Macmillan). Unfortunately we are unlikely to see many of their US authors, the list being so large, and at the moment Tor only intend to publish 48 titles per year. Sticking to established authors like Carroll (and Pan's Neal Asher) will help establish Tor quite well (though the books seem a little pricey to me), but I can't help but feel that they're missing an opportunity to push other authors who have, as yet, had little exposure in the UK. Having said that Tor's professionalism is beyond doubt and it will certainly be an imprint to watch.
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