When a terrifying fire seems to envelop London, a group of maintenance workers on the Underground make their escape through an access tunnel and find themselves in a seemingly uninhabited, possibly mythical world. Portal fantasy has been a staple of modern fantasy from C.S. Lewis to Stephen Donaldson but Simon Morden’s clever and engaging novel keeps the reader guessing as to exactly what sort of portal and what sort of world we have here.
This is a very personal world and it seems to offer the (pleasingly diverse and vividly portrayed) characters very particular challenges and opportunities. Not to mention extraordinary changes to their own nature. Making things this personal means the characters are key and from a girl trying to escape her criminal past to a young Sikh man looking to escape family expectations Morden’s characters are consistently real and surprising. As we follow them we learn more about their lives and the true nature of the strange world they are in – this land is neither as empty or as simple as it first appears. This is a wonderfully original novel with real psychological depth and a canny way with fantasy archetypes. Fans of Ursula le Guin will enjoy mapping Morden’s world. ~ Simon Spanton
Maxim Jakubowski's view...
Modern fantasy at its best, far from the shadow of Tolkien and nearer to the more fertile literary lands of Michael Moorcock and China Mieville. After an apocalypse devastates London, a group of survivors enter the Underground tunnels in a quest for salvation. Wonderfully delineated characters populate this modern saga, the first in a new series, and we see them reach an impossible portal into another reality as well as realise they are not the only denizens populating the darkness. Morden is fast becoming a master at evoking shattered urban landscapes as he proved in his earlier pyrotechnic and highly original science fictional 'Metrozone' series, and this could well become a major addition to the fantasy cannon. A word of warning, the book ends on a major cliffhanger and you'll be rather impatient to wait for the next instalment! ~ Maxim Jakubowski
|Primary Genre||Science Fiction|