The Dervish House by Ian McDonald

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The Dervish House by Ian McDonald

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: Istanbul, Turkey in the year 2025, less than a generation in the future. The families living in and around The Dervish House tell a rich story of past, present and future.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Gollancz
ISBN: 978-0575080539

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The reader is plunged straight away into the busy, bustling centre of Istanbul. And climate change appears to have arrived. In 2022 thousands of Istanbul's citizens died in a heatwave and now, only three years later it's Thirty-three degrees in April, at seven in the morning. Unthinkable. You can almost hear the collective thrum of all those air-conditioning units trying to make life bearable for the local people.

McDonald takes his time to describe in intricate detail The Dervish House. It's a hotch-potch of individuals and families. The architecture alone could probably tell a thousand stories down the generations. But now, in 2025 it's a frenetic, modern, futuristic world. But not everyone is happy. It's also a dangerous world where suicide bombers could strike at any time. The security police try to keep things under control but it's a constant struggle.

And McDonald introduces us to some one-off characters. For example, there's a young boy whose illness requires him to live life at the level of a whisper. Then there's a rather eccentric woman who runs an art gallery, an elderly Greek man who could star in his own television show, to name but a few. The author's descriptions are wonderfully unique and witty. The street names are terrific too and all of this rich descriptive text draws the reader in to the story quickly and effortlessly. And through these characters we are treated to some sparkling dialogue which ripples on the page. McDonald manages to make a few mentions of the 20th, 19th and even the 18th century and the whole feel of the novel is exotically fantastic.

A piece which I particularly liked concerned a character called Leyla. She is looking forward to a rather high-powered interview. She wants the job. And McDonald has great fun in describing her stressful situation. It may be 2025 with all of its sophisticated IT and labour-saving devices writ large - but she's still concerned about her suit and high-heeled shoes. Some things never change ...

McDonald certainly has a lovely descriptive edge which we can relate to today. He talks about an oil crisis in 2024 where the elderly of the area died in their frozen city-centre apartments. And he also talks about OPEC/America/the Middle East political situation and tensions. But there are also some delightful and fanciful touches where the reader is asked to grapple with eg: turning an urban building into a golf course Corridors become fairways, offices are greens.

For me, McDonald was at his best when unleashing his imagination on the money market, on trading, on the traders and commodities. Terrific stuff. For lovers of science fiction, you will be drawn into his fantastic world. He will seduce you. Be warned. I have to confess at this stage to being a sci-fi virgin. I think it's good to read genres outwith your comfort zone, now and again. I found this novel surprisingly good. Perhaps I was just lucky.

This novel is a panoply of all things Turkish - the colourful bazaars, the exotic markets, the elaborate and distinctive architecture, the famous and much-loved Turkish baths. Delve in and enjoy.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then try No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong.

Buy The Dervish House by Ian McDonald at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dervish House by Ian McDonald at

Buy The Dervish House by Ian McDonald at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dervish House by Ian McDonald at


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