Archives for category: Piccadilly Press

Published by Piccadilly Press.

I love rain. I was staying with my uncle on his farm in Laikipia, Kenya some years ago and my cousin complained that the ‘rains’ hadn’t come. I offered to encourage the weather with a rain dance. George was a pragmatic farmer and African, and he laughed at me. The next day he complained that though it had rained, it hadn’t rained on his tomatoes. So, I promised him more for that night, and danced a dance in the middle of the courtyard…like I have never danced before… or since, to be truthful. I don’t do much in the way of dancing.

The thunderstorm that occurred that night was like nothing I have ever experienced. Loud, all-pervading, and glorious! I couldn’t hear my Mum when she spoke directly into my ear…and the smell was, well – quite sumptuous.

I have always liked the rain, in preference to the sun – so much more going on.

This is a new dystopian volume from Zillah Bethell (author of A Whisper of Horses) – in an era where water is the rarest commodity in the world and as a result those who have water, or are able to use distillation plants to obtain fresh water are at war with those who don’t. This is the background to this multilayered story of a young boy with achromatopsia, a condition which results in the suffer being totally colour blind. They see the world in a spectrum of greys and whites – a rainbow means very little to them.

At the beginning of the story Auden’s father is away fighting in the war. His uncle, a scientist has recently died and left his cottage to his family and Auden’s mother has moved them from London to the country.  Which is when this really begins.

The book raises various questions and ideas, beliefs and thoughts: Does everything have to have a purpose? Is that why things exist? What makes a thing a living entity? What makes us human?

The ideas include the fact that for the most part, humans are kind and truthful and wise and decent and that we should recognise difficulties for what they are, and press on regardless.

Achromatopsia is a real condition – though suffers, the Internet informs me, not only have an inability to see colour, but other aspects of their sight are also affected. Particularly when in bright sun light, and though this is something that Auden also has to deal with, the idea that he is able to see better than someone without it, in poor light, seems not to be the case.

This is a story about doing what is right. Believing in yourself. Friendship, bravery and sacrifice.

 

 

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Published by Piccadilly Press.

It is 03.09 in the morning. Dark. Silent, apart from my oil heater clicking gently behind me. I woke a while ago to continue reading this extraordinary volume.

This is a story set in Grey Britan, after the Gasses. The world has changed, things are not as they once were. Lahn Dan is contained within the Emm Twenty-five and there is nothing beyond.

‘there’s nothing outside of the Emm Twenty-five. Everything outside Lahn Dan is Dead.’

People and society have changed too.

The Aus live lives that are easier than most, though much of their world is fake. They are secure. Have hot water. Fresh food and their grass is green. They have been changed to look like the people of history, those known for their looks. They are beautiful. The Cus, meanwhile, are only able to use technology to support the Aus, and Pb they are the lowest of the low. They work. Have nothing, but stories, are almost illiterate, don’t eat food, but consume small pills for sustenance. Their grass is a sort of muddy brown colour.  They are set apart.

Aus – gold, Cus – copper and Pb – lead.

Lahn Dan to Serendipity is a place of darkness, filth, and hard-work. A place of bridges over the Tems – which she knows used to be one of the largest rivers in the world. Serendipity has never seen a river, but she has heard about them. The Tems is now a thick line of mud, used to dispose of anything unwanted, whether human or otherwise.

London is filled with images of horses. The National Gallery contains, of course, that stunning picture Whistlejacket by Stubbs, along with many others, including The Horses of Achilles, by van Dyke. Then there are the statues: Richard III on horseback outside the Houses of Parliament. The horses in the sculpture entitled Animals at War in Park Lane – there are thousands of them. Lahn Dan is filled with them too..

This book was a serendipitous find. I saw a brief glimpse of its existence in a piece of ephemera at work. Then sent out a plea for a reading copy – a proof, any form of this book for me to read. The author responded promptly and sent me a copy of the hardback – which I took home the day before yesterday, and started to read last night.

I am now just 55 pages into the book. I can’t leave it alone, yet am having to stop, every now and then, because I’m worried about what Serendipity has done, who she has met, and what decisions she is about to make. There are many characters who can and without doubt will affect the run of this story – and one I am in particular, a member of the Aus society, of whom I am most suspicious.

The book quotes a poem I read at school entitled The Horses by Edwin Muir –

We did not dare go near them. Yet they waited, 

Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent

By an old command to find our whereabouts

And that long-lost archaic companionship.

 I have ridden horses. I have been snuffled at. I have been examined and in turn gazed back, into those gorgeous eyes. I have been trusted. I have ridden like the wind, my mount and I as one, both together. In a small way, I have been part of that archaic companionship. This is a celebration of all of that.

The paperback is due out on the 25th of this month. I’m afraid I prefer the hardback’s dust-jacket to the cover of the new edition coming out – it is perhaps less eye catching, it is perhaps more traditional.  A book though, is more than its cover, as we all know – so  if you can find a copy of the hardback before the 25th of January – then buy it (£9.99).

If not, then order the paperback (£6.99).

I suppose it isn’t long till the 25th of January.

 

 

 

 

Published by Piccadilly Press.

I am very pleased to say that my  new-ish colleague Amabel found the copy of this that I was reading…so I can now revisit my post about this. If she continues to find books I have lost, she will become an invaluable member of staff.

It is a beautifully complex book – with spikes of darkness. Several character’s perspectives are followed. There are the children (in particular one), who are sacrificed. A witch, who I am glad to say isn’t what you might expect. A carpenter, a mother bereft from loss. Babies. Paper birds, a swamp monster, a dragon and, perhaps my favourite character of all, a crow. Oh, I nearly forgot – there is a heroine and a hero too. It is as I suspected, marvellous.

I mentioned in my previous post about this that I have an affinity with witches. Last night I lay in bed, and basked in the light of the moon… I am just beginning to wonder.

Small phrases (and descriptive passages) are like decorative jewels:

Each lie they told fell from their lips and scattered on the ground, tinkling and glittering like broken glass.

“Caw,” said the crow. “I am the most excellent of crows,” the crow meant.

“Caw,” the crow whispered, abashed.

A blur of petulant green…

One day as she sat on the floor in the middle of her cell, cross-legged. She had chanced upon a handful of feathers left behind by a swallow who had decided to make her nest on the narrow windowsill of the cell, before a falcon had decided to make the swallow a snack.

“Caw,” said the crow, but what he meant was any number of unrepeatable things. “Language!” Luna admonished. “And anyway, I don’t believe I like your tone.

“What have you gotten yourself into? the shadows seemed to say, tutting and harrumphing.

Originally published in the USA, so is written in American. Piccadilly Press haven’t translated the odd Americanism which dot the book.

With thanks to Amabel – that useful new part-timer in Waterstones Finchley Road O2.

 

Published by Piccadilly Press

I have to say I’m pretty annoyed. I found a copy of this book at work today, started to read it – knew I wanted to take it home, and lost it. I know this is going to be a good one. I spent around half an hour searching after I should have left this evening. In the end, I had to order myself a fresh copy. Which I will, no doubt, devour when it comes in.

This is one of those I’m certain about, before I have got very far. Its about a witch. Not a nice witch either. At the very beginning you are told how she makes the land unhealthy…that an older brother was sacrificed…

I will continue this post, once I have finished it. In the mean while go out and find a copy and read it.

I have an affinity with witches. I am supposed to have two in my ancestry. Its a useful thing to remember when the world turns obnoxious…

Published by Piccadilly Press

This should, in a way have started with the phrase ‘Once upon a time…’ It is a lovely return to those wonderful stories that were read to everyone from an early age – perhaps in particular to young girls. This is the story of a princess, the younger sister of one who one day will take on the responsibilities of the throne and everything that goes with it. That sister is interested in ephemeral things, how she looks, shiny things, (particularly gifts) and which prince has come to play court to her. Our heroine, however, is much more practically minded and is thinking that perhaps she might become a wizard, though she’s not really sure. In the mean while she’s enjoying the library and books…

When one of Morven’s suitors is turned into a frog, and she doesn’t show any inclination to follow tradition and kiss him, leaving Princess Anya to find a way to solve the problem, along with that of a wicked sorcerer who is trying to take over her sister’s throne…

A newt (an enchanted boy) that regularly licks his eyes to keep them clean, an otter half turned into a human, along with a magic carpet that flies high and incredibly fast – first having rolled his passengers tightly together to prevent them from falling off, and a librarian, who when stressed changes into an owl and regurgitates castings with little or no warning, are just some of the rather eclectic and wonderful characters in this story.

The copy I read is the hardback – with a lovely black dust jacket with a very pleasing green frog resting on Garth Nix’s name, emblazoned as it is on the cover in gold. The actual boards and spine sadly don’t have a gold frog embossed on them, which I had hoped for. Though the stuck down and loose endpapers are beautiful (almost making up for this lack) – with a design of frogs leaping over lily pads. If the world was as it should be, somewhere out there should be some wallpaper made of this design – it is just right – and would make a lovely addition to a room – though perhaps four walls might be a bit much. My only serious sadness (apart form not finding a gold frog on the front board) is the lack of margin and space in the gutter of the book – which gives a feeling of frugality, not to say parsimony to the book, which is unnecessary. My colleague at work said it would add expense – I replied that I thought it would be worth it – the story certainly deserves a beautiful design…

The story itself is wonderful – and if I could find a way to organise for Garth Nix to come to London for an event to celebrate the publication, I would – however, he lives, rather inconveniently, in Australia…