Lighthouse of the Netherworlds by Maxwell N Andrews
|Lighthouse of the Netherworlds by Maxwell N Andrews|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A wilful and wacky semi-fantasy, semi-for the young readers. And semi-successful.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 243||Date: August 2019|
|Publisher: Independently Published|
The phrase about never trusting a book by its cover is something I put on a par with comments about Marmite. You're supposed to love it or hate it and I'm halfway between, and likewise the old adage is halfway true. From the cover of this I had a child-friendly fantasy, what with that name and that attractive artwork of an attractive girl reaching for an attractive water plant. That was only built on by the initial fictionalised quotes, with their non-standard spelling, as if texts of scripture in this book's world predated our standardised literacy. But why was I two chapters in and just finding more and more characters, both human and animal, and more and more flashbacks, and no proof that this was what I'd bought in for?
Well partly because this is not real fantasy as we understand it. Our heroine mends a candyfloss machine, and then walks through a veritable bombsite with her mother to a waterpark for a picnic. Except they don't, for it's closed – but they do task themselves with solving a mystery regarding an island in its environs. There were certainly bits of the fantasy/reality crossover I liked – I've never seen questing people equipped with plastic ponchos before, nor have such genre books featured slapstick scenes in a runaway ice cream van.
What this all boils down to is a rather scatty read. It took a long time for the story to gel, and that crossover of mundane with the fantastical was one I doubt I've seen done so strongly – and so bizarrely – since Dave McKean's movie Mirrormask. Throughout I had the feeling I was needing to know more – even a note left with some sandwiches is compelled to allude to backstory – although a lot of the times this happens it's a Simpsons-style cutaway scene without the cutaway scene, so we're supposed to imagine what had happened. Mr Warbler's told me about last year's unfortunate accident with a breeding pair of Snotty Speckled Gizzards, and the staff are still trying to clean the feathers and sticky goo off the enclosure walls. Or, your mother[…]'s already put me on probation for losing you at last week's car boot sale.
It's also scatty as regards other things, such as its audience. Many things – a fondness for alliterative chapter titles, that cover again, and the fact it's billed as being for the ten-to-eighteen age bracket (as if such a wide thing ever existed), made me expect a youthful read, but then I found the high-falutin' language. 'Well, your mother's having kittens […]' he added chidingly, but his discourse petered out as his curious eyes fell on the dessicated pool. This offers a lot of flowery, uncommon vocab.
But it's the plotline that rankled with me the most, I think. I don't have to be force-fed anything (well, much), but the ghost of a story I wasn't at all aware of haunted these pages, making me think if it had still been alive I'd have somehow got the full picture. I'm not saying there is not scope for the wacky in fantasy, but given that this is a story about a girl discovering her future alongside finding out about her family's past, it would have helped for that to have been more evident, and to have involved fewer instances of dramatically peculiar chip shop cuisine. So forget Marmite, and book covers, a new adage formed while reading this curate's egg. I found it to be proof that a book taking you from A to B to C had better tell you where A is first.
I must thank the author for my review copy.
The Last Spell Breather by Julie Pike proved to be a great fantasy for young audiences.
You can read more about Maxwell N Andrews here.
You can read more book reviews or buy Lighthouse of the Netherworlds by Maxwell N Andrews at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Lighthouse of the Netherworlds by Maxwell N Andrews at Amazon.com.
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