Feb 4, 2010: Within the first paragraph of this novel I knew I was in the hands of a skillful, practised writer. The atmosphere is eerie and evocative as the main character, Kieran, wakes from a disturbing dream and looks out the window into the dark, wind tossed yard.
A tone of tension and foreboding is established, but as the story progresses it’s not quite as scary as I expected it to be. Kieran goes about his mundane day and encounters some odd, but apparently trivial, mysteries, that, although he treats them lightly, he nevertheless seems compelled to investigate. He also receives some upsetting (and coincidental) news about the death of an old friend. He and the friend’s bereaved girlfriend drown their sorrows together and soon she is along for the ride as the pair follow up weird clues on a quest they superficially treat as a lark and a distraction, but they can’t seem to stop! Meanwhile a parallel story of dark events during World War II (with historical basis) is interspersed into the narrative.
The main story takes place in London and surrounding communities and has a vivid sense of place. Real landmarks are used and the details of damp weather, speech patterns, lifestyle details of urban UK lower middle class in (I think) the 80s to 90s – will have you nodding if you have been there or giving you a taste of it if you have not.
At 29 chapters I had expected to divide up this reading over several sessions but I read it all in one evening – it was that enthralling and went quickly.
The first time I got to the ending I was so upset I cried out NO! in protest. Then I realized I had inadvertedly missed a big chunk of the previous chapter. The scroll bar to the left of the text is very thin (at least on my screen) and this sometimes made it tricky to tell when I’d reached the bottom of a chapter – watch out for that! Once I realized what had happened and read the omitted text I felt more satisfied that the end had tied up the plot themes, although I do still have some problem with it. I can’t discuss details without creating a spoiler, but I will just say the phrase "one of these things is not like the others" comes to mind. It may be hard to take, however, don’t worry, you will find out what "Spireclaw" means and more.
If you’d like to read a nicely crafted modern dark (subtly) supernatural mystery set in London, here’s your book.
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