The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North
|The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: Another fantastic concept from author Claire North comes to life in "The Pursuit of William Abbey" – a book packed full of fascinating ideas but, for me, lacking heart.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 464||Date: November 2019|
|External links: Author's website|
When William Abbey fails to prevent the lynching of a young boy in 1880's South Africa, he finds himself cursed by the grieving mother. A naïve English Doctor, he slowly learns the weight of the curse upon him, as the shadow of the dead boy begins to follow him across the world. Never stopping, always growing – it crosses oceans and mountains in pursuit of William. As he finds himself unable to resist speaking the truths that he hears in others, he also learns that the dark shadow is deadly – and seeks to kill the one he loves the most…
Claire North is the pseudonym of Catherine Webb – a prolific author who shot to success with her Young Adult novel "Mirror Dreams", she came back into the public eye as "Claire North" with the hugely successful publication of "The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August". Since then, she's been producing work that crosses genre and blends popular fiction with themes from fantasy and science fiction – all of which are threaded with strong emotions and compelling characters to ensure that the reader isn't alienated by the slightly weirder themes that tend to crop up during North's work.
In "The Pursuit of William Abbey", North tells a dark tale that has a scope that gradually becomes wider and wider as the book goes on – but keeping William Abbey as the focus throughout. He's an interesting character, and certainly one who makes for a compelling lead, but he also feels a little flat at times – a cipher for the author, but one who it feels like the reader learns little over the course of this rather long read.
In terms of the threat though – North is conscious to keep her foot on the accelerator, and this combined with the wide landscape of settings explored in the book, ensures that every chapter is an unknown – ensuring that the reader keeps turning the pages even if I feel like this book could have benefited from a little trimming.
Compelling, clever, and packed full of intriguing themes, for me "The Pursuit of William Abbey" lacks some of the heart that can be found in other novels by North – the threat over lead characters is fantastically depicted, but it can be rather hard to care quite as much as I thought the book was asking me too. In addition, it's a lengthy read that maintains tension but didn't always maintain interest for me – I was keen for things to wrap up rather sooner than they did. Nonetheless, this is another example of the work that North's brilliant mind can produce on what seems to be an almost annual basis, and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.
Many thanks to the publisher for the copy, and for further reading I recommend The End of the Day – my absolute favourite of North's books that combines a fantasy concept with humanity and warmth. You might also enjoy Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper.
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