Jun 7, 2012

Advent, by James Treadwell

My boss gave me an advance reading copy of this book, and the blurb on the back makes it sound positively silly. I can now assure you, it is most certainly not that. Rather, it's an extremely well-written, hauntingly beautiful tale about the beginning of the end of the world. The novel starts benignly enough, with a 15-year-old Gavin feeling very much alone and different (and what teenager doesn't?) Things quickly devolve into true weirdness when it becomes clear that Gavin sees things others don't, though they are just as real as he is. We follow Gav on his trip to the coast of England, an estate called Pendurra where his aunt (and only beloved relative) is the caretaker. But Auntie Gwen isn't there, and it slowly becomes obvious that Pendurra is weird, weird in the same way Gavin is. Alongside this story, we also follow the tale of Johann Faust, that infamous magician who, supposedly, sold his soul to the devil.

The beauty of the language of this book is remarkable; many passages are more poetry than prose, almost reminiscent of W. B. Yeats, but not in an overwhelming way. The magical creatures of Pendurra and Faust are sublimely haunting and tantalizingly real. This really is a treasure of writing, and I'm quite happy that it's apparently part of a larger series. I just wish the title were a little less silly and more evocative of the tone of the novel. I fear that the title and blurb won't interest people, and that is a true shame as they will miss out on a wonderful read.

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