The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet
|The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Genius! The Murdstone Trilogy is a satire on fantasy fiction, fame and celebrity culture, the publishing industry and I don't know what else. It's utterly fabulous, not least because there is a deep affection for fantasy, even as it's being mocked. You'll need a healthy degree of snark to take the most from this wonderful story.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: November 2014|
|Publisher: David Fickling|
|External links: Author's website|
Philip Murdstone is becoming a bit of a has-been. The once-acclaimed children's author has won literary awards, dontchaknow. Literary. Got that? But these are past glories. His novels about young outsiders are no longer anything new. In fact, his agent can't even sell his latest. And Minerva Finch, said agent, is all about what she can sell. There's nothing for it, she tells Philip, but a foray into fantasy. He's going to have to write a sword-and-sorcery epic. She's even got an A4 blueprint of what's required: realms, minions, dark lords, dwarves, elves, swords, and all the rest of it. Fantasy, you see, is selling by the bucketloads, containerloads, downloads.
Unable to quite relinquish fame - or money, since he's broke - Philip succumbs to Minerva's bullying. But fantasy is a genre he despises, his attempts at writing it are abortive, and he swiftly takes to the drink. In a drunken - or perhaps magickal, with a K - stupor, he is visited by Pocket Wellfair, a scribe from another realm. Pocket has a story to tell and it's the story Philip needs to reinvent himself as a master of fantasy. But the bargain he makes with Pocket is a Faustian one...
... oh, oh, oh, OH! The Murdstone Trilogy is my favourite book of the year so far. Honestly, it is. It's absolutely, utterly hilarious. It's a satire on fantasy fiction, fame and celebrity culture, the publishing industry, and I don't know what else. Everything is skewered: from Philip himself, a silly, self-absorbed middle-aged man, through the moulding of books to fit an Overton-windowed market rather than an artistic vision, to the tropes and mores of the fantasy genre. It sounds quite mean, doesn't it? But it isn't mean. It's original and snarky and subversive and truly hilarious but it's also got a wonderfully generous heart. I con't see even the most ardent of fantasy fans taking offence.
Pocket Wellfair, the fantasy figure inserted into Philip's real world, is as perfect a fantasy figure as I could imagine. I actually believe in Pocket. If it weren't for the inevitable Faustian side effect, I'd like him to visit me one day. Minerva, the agent, is a publishing industry Cruella de Ville. And Philip is really so pitiful as to be sympathetic. The jokes come thick and fast and I think you'd need to read the book several times before you got them all. That's the coolest aspect of any comedy, isn't it?
Truly: I can't recommend The Murdstone Trilogy highly enough. I've never read anything quite like it. On my press sheet, Bookbag favourite Tim Bowler says, I need a lie-down. I always do after I read Mal Peet. I feel pretty much the same. Don't miss this one, chaps. It's crying out to be read.
Sara's Face by Melvin Burgess is a satire on celebrity culture with a challenging reportage style. If The Murdstone Trilogy appeals, you'll probably love any of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett - although the there, the fantasy is the satire.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet at Amazon.com.
The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet is in the Top Ten Fantasy Novels of 2014.
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