New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey
|New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: If you pull a city of Ancient Romans through to the 21st century, there's going to be trouble, but if you get Daniel Godfrey to write about it, it'll be well worth it! Exciting, original and very clever SFF..|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: June 2016|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Classicist Nick Houghton is employed by Novus Particles to assist them with a reconstruction of Pompeii – a reconstruction that includes the original, living first century inhabitants. NovusPart have discovered a way to pull historical artefacts (and indeed people) through time; an amazing innovation. The conspiracy theorists mumble about there being sinister reasons and the disappearance of key personnel helps to feed these rumours, but Nick needs a job and this is too good an opportunity to turn down. Anyway, that's what he tells himself to combat the repercussions of saying no.
Yorkshire born, Derbyshire adopted author Daniel Godfrey's debut novel is literary superglue. I speak from experience, getting back to work late from lunch today because I couldn't put it down till I'd finished it.
The cover blurb compares Daniel to Michael Crichton so I was half expecting Jurassic Park with Romans replacing dinosaurs, but not a bit of it. It's more original than that.
This is a thriller that works through layers of revelation, each blowing our mind a little more than the last. I'm not going to spoil the discovery for you, but shall we say that the author plays with our perceptions and wins resoundingly.
The basic idea is simple. Nick is our innocent who, with little choice, has been thrust into a historical experiment. At least that's how it's sold to him but gradually he realises that there's more to it as we would expect there to be where the corporate world is concerned. Yet it's not the sinister we guessed at the beginning.
It may be another novel in which global corporates – in the form of Whelan and MacMahon - are bad but we don’t have much time to look out for stereotypes since we're soon absorbed by the action and those revelations… yes, the ones I mustn't talk about. (When buying the book, get a copy for your friend at the same time; not being able to discuss the twists is frustrating… she says speaking from personal experience!)
Meanwhile back with the Romans… we feel sorry for them, effectively caged within the confines of a mock-up Pompeii. Barbatus, the duumvir (a sort of city leader) wants his people to return to normal life – fishing, making fish paste and trading with surrounding towns and villages to name but some pastimes they've had to forfeit. How long will they believe the cover story? It may be that the only qualification one needs to be an ancient Roman is to have come from ancient Rome rather than to be stupid, but we get the feeling that MacMahon and Whelan may not have realised that bit.
Nick's chapters are intertwined with a story of the ghost of a room maid roaming a Cambridge University college. Gradually as the two storylines come together we receive another jolt or two.
Daniel's surprises go even beyond the last page. Just as we're still reeling from an ending that looks as though everything has been almost tied up nicely, there comes an announcement of a sequel in progress. That to me that's the best surprise of all; looking forward to it Mr G!
(Thank you to the folk at Titan Books for providing us with a copy for review. We also have a review of the next book in the series.)
Further Reading: If you like your thrillers to be surprise-ridden, we heartily recommend Orphan X (Evan Smoak) by Gregg Hurwitz. If you'd like to retain that hint of science fiction, then we just as heartily suggest Ace of Spiders by Stefan Mohamed.
You can read more book reviews or buy New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey at Amazon.com.
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