Thursday, November 26, 2009

Barely a Mention: Grisly Tales from Tumblewater

It might astound some readers to know that I do read and watch things without vampires in them… I just rarely post about it here.

The book Grisly Tales from Tumblewateris a children’s book, written by Bruno Vincent, due for release next year. However I am lucky enough to be on the Amazon Vine review programme and ordered the book from that to review for Amazon. A proof copy landed through my front door and the substance of my review is reproduced below.

The reason I felt I could get away with a mention over here (beyond this being my blog, after all) is the fact that in one of the stories contained within – The Man Who Taught English Literature – we meet a teacher, so insane that when he notices a young man in his class actually reading a book, he wants to help bring the book to life. That book is Dracula and, to try and bring it to life, the teacher kills several bats, which he hangs inside a cloak. He pours animal blood from the abattoir over the cloak and his face and then he creeps out in front of the boy and cackles in a way he thinks Dracula might…

Okay, barely a mention… not even enough for an Honourable Mention but, in my humble opinion, a fine book.

Reproduction of my Amazon review:

If you are a young reader, looking at this review, can I just say, “You will love this book.”

If you are an adult, looking to buy this for a young reader then the message is, “They will love this book.”

Okay, now we have got that out of the way, adults… forget the young reader, buy this for yourself…

This is a collection of grisly tales set in the city of Tumblewater – a place where it perpetually rains. They are presented in the form of a portmanteau, with an equally disturbing wrap-around concerning Daniel Dorey, a young man new to the city, in trouble (innocently) with the law, a collector of stories and a man with a mission.

Vincent draws around us a darkly Gothic landscape, in a way perhaps even darker than that Neil Gaiman presented in
the Graveyard Book. The Graveyard Book was clearly contemporary but this is a landscape drawn out of the industrial revolution, adding a darker perhaps Dickensian edge. Imagine the city to be like the vision drawn of London in Tim Burton’s Sweeny Todd but then imagine it made murkier, imagine the rotting buildings huddled closer together, imagine a city where, when dawn comes, we never see a sunrise breaking through the perpetual clouds. One of the stories within dates to the late 19th or early 20th Century, as Dracula is mentioned as a fairly new book, but such clues are unimportant when evoking the vision of the City – the mud soaked carapace as well as the diseased and rotting innards of Tumblewater are painted in every nuance of Vincent’s evocative language.

The final release of the book, I understand, will be illustrated. I can only imagine that this will add an extra something to the proceedings but the proof copy of the book, as supplied via the Vine programme, was without the illustrations. Yet it is the words, the stories, the sense of the grotesque that sucks you into a world where to hear of orphans baked alive and entire towns poisoned is just another rain soaked day.

Highly recommended.


Zahir Blue said...

Thanks for the head's up. And although I don't think you celebrate it over there, Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Zahir - no we don't, but my thanks and happy thanksgiving to you.

Actually, as i read this one I though Zahir will like this.