By Guy Adams
Angry Robot, out now
Guy Adams’ novel mixes influences from many exponents of the fantasy genre, creating a story that frequently acknowledges its roots but takes the reader on a journey all its own.
Among the many hauntingly familiar ideas, Doctor Who fans will find versions of games played by the Celestial Toymaker in the 1966 story amd characters from Sylvester McCoy’s final two seasons. There’s a definite Cube vibe to the whole story: characters move from room to room trying to find an exit, not knowing what tortures await them in the next place while it’s clear that some people know more than they’re letting on. And the whole place has a twisted Narnia feel to it, as one of the characters points out. The central time paradox slowly becomes clear, with Adams providing enough clues to its existence, if not the reason.
The characterisation works well, mixing people from the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries together freely, and the sections featuring the autistic Sophie are particularly well written, allowing the reader to witness the girl’s clearly defined thought patterns. The interludes with the “renegade” are perhaps the most cliched part of the tale, but they are short and infrequent.
Adams provides enough closure at the end that you don’t feel cheated by not seeing everything to fruition, and I look forward to the sequel.
Verdict: An unusual and captivating tale of altered reality. 7/10