Saturday, June 27, 2020

Review: The City in the Middle of the Night



The story of this Hugo nominated novel takes place on the planet January, a sphere tidally locked to its star, creating two worlds, one scorched by constant sunlight, the other a cold world of endless night. Humans barely survive in the narrow twilight world that borders both extremities. 


The story begins with a sacrifice. Sophie takes the blame for a theft committed by her roommate Bianca, her punishment for this trivial misdemeanour, to be hurled down a steep precipice to the night world and almost certain death. Unexpectedly, Sophie is saved by a fearsome alien life form (the Gelids) and returned to her twilight home, Xiosphant.  


The setting up of the story was a delight. Anders builds tension with skilled prose, quickly capturing reader interest. I look forward to completing this novel and delving deeper into the workings of the time-regulated human world of Xiosphant and its relationship with the alien cultures of the night world.


Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January



January Scaller is raised as a ward of the wealthy Mr Locke, a member of the exclusive New England Archaeological Society, who employs her father, Julian Scaller, to acquire objects of interest from around the world. As a consequence, January grows up in an emotionally isolated setting, mostly without the love and guidance of her father. She makes amends for her loneliness, exploring the many artefacts that fill Mr Locke’s grand house, it’s mysteries stirring her developing imagination.


Stifled in her adolescence, January embarks on a journey of self-discovery in her late teens, when she discovers a mysterious leather book that carries the promise of adventure, discovery and love, all just a step removed from ten thousand secret doors.


The dream-like prose is reminiscent of many great tales told a century earlier, with its protagonist yearning to fit into the world, but never fully able. I look forward to finishing this Hugo nominated novel and re-engage with the wondrous world created by Harrow’s polished prose.