It’s been quite a while since I actually did a book review and as today has been miserable so far, Igot a cold, it’s rained all day and been freezing, so I watched an episode of Frozen Planet and even that didn’t make me feel warmer. So today you are introduced to, or perhaps just reminded of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters.
Weighing in, and that is the appropriate word even for the paperback, at 753 pages (and then 22 other pages of various ephemera) this is no quick read.
Style plays a very big part with this book, the hardback looked very lavish, although a tad expensive especially for a first time author who won’t drag in the punters. Dahlquist was allegedly paid a seven figure sum for a two book deal.
For the UK launch, Penguin Books, let people subscribe and get each chapter weekly, sort of a hark back to the Dickens way of writing books.
Reading the reviews on the covers, you can see the authors who inspired Dahlquist include; Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Alexandre Dumas, Charles Dickens, H. Rider Haggard and The Marquis de Sade.
The story throws three very different people (a spy, a killer and an imposter) into an outlandish, not to mention insane plot forged by a secret cabal to…well I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I assure you it has all the right ingredients for a fiendish, dastardly and diabolical masterplan.
Sounds great right, but what about the substance? Whilst I enjoyed the Victorian era meets Cyberpunk alternative world aspects. It allows a lot more to be possible without being forced to stay within the rules of the established order of things. I thought it could do with a bit of editing down, it is long and the way the narrative is plotted leads to certain predictability in our heroes movements. The characters are all pretty standard and don’t have a lot of depth, what you see is what you get.
Having said that onto the good points. Whereas the characters aren’t explored in depth, the plot certainly is, this is a vast twisty turny type of plot, with a high body count, plenty of chases, kidnappings, orgies, plenty of skullduggery and general nefariousness. It’s precisely the sort of book that could well settle into the medium of film or comics equally well.
Mix in a shed load of baddies, some really fun and sometimes cheesy dialogue which has a nice vein of cheese running through it, the overwritten and over the top action make this absurd and fun and the classic don’t do that hero person, that is not the common sense thing to do vibe. even the plot holes are fine, because it doesn’t matter it adds to the boisterousness oddness of the book which is a mish mash of many styles.
So to answer my original question, is it style over substance? It’s a bit of a mixed bag overall, it does indeed ooze style and there is certainly an abundance of things to take in and enjoy, but it is slow in parts and seems to split other readers I’ve spoken too down the middle on whether they really like it. So I would say not for everyone then but if you’re looking for an essentially slightly mental book and you have the time give it a go. There are two follow up books too, which I really need to get around to reading.