The singular and extraordinary tale of Mirror and Goliath, by Ishbelle Bee

The singular and extraordinary tale of Mirror and Goliath Book Cover The singular and extraordinary tale of Mirror and Goliath
The Peculiar adventures of John Loveheart, esq #1
Ishbelle Bee
Fantasy, Horror, YA
Angry Robot
June 2 2015

Look at the title. That collection of words and names has already set the stage and mood of the story it headlines.  It's effective - it caught my interest immediately, and, paired with the fact of it being an Angry Robot title,  I threw myself at it.  (Not to forget the beautiful cover design. Being a digital reader, I often ignore and/or forget about the cover, but this is definitely spot on for what I consider beautiful and interest-stirring.)

The singular and extraordinary tale of Mirror and Goliath is a fast read, despite all of its quirks: We have a story told in multiple first-person viewpoints, scattered all over the timeline, disorganized and not always purposeful.  Every chapter is absolutely thick with magic and otherness, delicious and rich; there's old London, Jack the Ripper, clockmaking, demons, angels, immortality, self-professed insane villains, shape-shifting and police-uniformed heroes, mediums, tarot readers,  exorcists.  It's such a good list of ingredients.

Unfortunately, it just doesn't come together all that well.  Keep in mind, of course, that I am very much a structure/plot-oriented reader - I'm unhappy when I don't get enough of a plot/drive/resolution-skeleton on which to hang all the moods and poetic phrases and all those frills.  Some readers are content as long as they get to immerse, and those readers might fall in love with this thing.  I certainly didn't hate it - it was a nice read, it just made me sort of sad towards the end as I realised I wasn't going to get any satisfactory revelation or closure.

Then again, I now know this was a series starter. The sequel is titled The contrary tale of the Butterfly girl: From the peculiar adventures of John Loveheart, esq. It will be published in a few months, and I'm already sort of curious about how the series takes its name from a character that isn't the first book's Mirror or Goliath Honey-Flower.   Huh.

Given how quick this was to read,  I'll likely give the sequel a chance - which is (really!) a positive rating from me, given what I've said about the weak plot issue.

I think I'm being lenient because the atmosphere of this novel reminded me a bit of Cat Valente's Palimpsest.   So if you liked the textured dreaminess of that one - maybe have a look at Mirror and Goliath, too!

(Do we have a specific name for Londoncentric SFF yet? I mean, Londoniana? Londonpunk?  Not that this novel is all London, of course, it reaches out to Egypt and the Underworld, too - but the London factor is strong, even so...)


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