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36 Reviews
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mad as a badger, and all the better for it...
I don't know how he does it, but Magnus Mills captures the dull emptiness of the unexamined life without turning the reader off. This book might be hard going for the first few pages but before long you'll be purring with pleasure even if you don't know why. A guy plans to motorcycle to India but ends up playing darts and delivering milk instead. He buys baked beans...
Published on 28 May 2000

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3.0 out of 5 stars Shaggy
This is a book which is both easy to read and entertaining in a sort of afternoon television way. It describes the passing days of the hero in a friendly manner surrounded by local odd folk in a sub-Avengers type village. As others have mentioned nothing much happens apart from the entrapment of the young man which means that the story could have been rather dull and...
Published 12 months ago by M. Burville


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mad as a badger, and all the better for it..., 28 May 2000
By A Customer
I don't know how he does it, but Magnus Mills captures the dull emptiness of the unexamined life without turning the reader off. This book might be hard going for the first few pages but before long you'll be purring with pleasure even if you don't know why. A guy plans to motorcycle to India but ends up playing darts and delivering milk instead. He buys baked beans. He'd like some biscuits but the shop is out of stock. Stuff happens, but not much. But the book grows ever more creepy and weird while never letting on that anything is happening, until you get to the end and realise how utterly strange, compelling and mad it all was. From the grim banality of the dullest lives imaginable he slowly conjures up a dark, feral bad-dream world that seems more real than life no matter what bizarre events happen. The only current writer I can compare him to is George Saunders of "Civilwarland in Bad Decline", but Mills is even more low key and deadpan, creating delicious madness from the most unpromising material imaginable.
It's a rare book that leaves you both very satisfied and thinking "what the ****ing hell was that all about?" And this is it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All Quiet, 13 May 2006
By 
B. Davison "donutboy2k" (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
It certainly will be all quiet on the Orient Express, because the main character of this book will never get there!

Having been all ready to leave the campsite where he had spent his holiday to embark on a tour of the Far East, the unnamed narrator finds himself sticking around to help out with various tasks around the place. But this soon escalates until he is being roped in to every kind of job by the mysterious Mr. Parker (and his daughter). As more and more time passes, he finds it harder and harder to say 'no' to anything asked of him, and it becomes clear to the reader that he is stuck as the servant of the aforementioned Mr. Parker. The theme of being stuck in an allegory of manual work (which, despite the protestations of a previous reviewer, does make sense) then comes to the fore, and the reader is increasingly unnerved by the narrator's plight, and is curious as to the significance of various symbols, such as the cardboard crown. (I found the answer a bit of a disappointment). As the book draws to a close, it becomes obvious that the narrator now works on a virtually permanent basis for Mr. Parker, who wobbles on the edge of extreme anger at the mistakes of his young 'protege'.

Having praised the novel for its brilliance at conveying such a convincing allegory, however, it falls to me to say that the book does seem to constantly build up the reader's hopes only to eventually offer what I found to be a rather sudden and disappointing conclusion. But then maybe that was the point. He will never escape, so why should we be able to? As to whether you should buy it, I'd say that if you don't understand what an 'allegory of labour and capital' means, then don't! If you think you might, then go for it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Odd jobs for odd bods, 1 May 2006
By 
Expect no journeys to Eastern Europe in All Quiet on the Orient Express. I will give very little away if I say that the narrator finishing his last few days of his camping holiday in the Lakes never departs. Blessed or cursed with a dab hand for odd jobs and a good nature, the hapless holidaymaker little-by-little finds himself put to work and unable to escape the mysterious village community where he finds himself stuck. Not one for fancy descriptions, Mills instead combines a great ear for dialogue with a sly sense of humour. Both are in evidence again here. One particular highlight which springs to mind is when the local shopkeeper starts bemoaning 'the people who come in here asking for things'. These qualities buoy the tale along as the plot surrounding the lake thickens for the stranded tourist. Why is everyone so keen for him to take over Deakin's milk round? What is the significance of Bryan's cardboard crown that he inexplicably sports at all times? When will the landlord finally accept payment for his spiralling tab?

A star-off for similarities with The Restraint of Beasts storyline, this is nevertheless another page-turning, thought-provoking good'un by Mills.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lond awaited antidote to overlong epics, 12 July 2001
By A Customer
What is amazing about this book is just how little of it there is. Mills doesn't waste words describing every pointless little detail, creating beautifully tight prose. Even the protagonists name is omitted - but so what? What difference does it make whether it is John or Jack or Peter or whatever? Other reviewers claim that this makes the book unevocative, shorn of individuality. Rubbish. Instead the sparse writing leaves your imagination room to create connections, giving the book a wonderfully brooding and almost surreal feel. The protagonist says 'Hi' to his landlord, but because it is so underwritten, you read in sinister undercurrents to the exchange. You are also more aware of themes and motifs, which helps set up a wonderful twist. A fantastic book, well worth buying.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tourist Trap, 28 Jun 2001
By 
If Mills is the future of British literature, then we are in very safe hands. A tale of an outsider given a chance to become one of the village's own. He takes on tasks put in front of him, lusts(quietly) for his landlord's daughter and becomes a member of the local pub's darts team. You feel throughout the book that the hero will suffer the wrath of his employer. This dormaint feeling never really rears it's head and it's because of this that you find yourself warming to the quirks of the village characters. Mills is spot on with his take on an out-of-season tourist spot. By placing the tale at the end of the season, it really brings home how a thriving village suddenly loses it's sparkle when all the money has gone home. Weird this may be but it's all the better for it. 5 stars and that's just for the paper crown.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 30 Jun 2004
By 
M. Hutchinson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I am surprised by the general lack of support for this book among the reviews. The world created is deadpan, sparse, cold, threatening, strange - a bit like the Lake District on a cold March day, really.
From the first spillage of green paint, the reader is left waiting for something to happen - and whatever the something is, you know you're not going to like it.
But 'it' never comes - which is what makes this book so clever. How Magnus Mills manages to fill every sentance with nuances of threat or helplessness and manages to maintain the pace of an action thriller in a book without action is admirable.
Read it. It'll only take you two hours, but you won't forget it in a hurry..... you better not, because he wouldn't like that. He's got a temper on him, you know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever so slightly absurd, 19 Aug 2010
A wonderfully enjoyable tale, written in a deceptively simple way. A comedy with a very subtle, dark undertow.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light hearted and restful, 2 Feb 2000
The naivety of the book's subject does make you angry as you progress through the book. However , it does capture a very wholesome feel of country living which kept me awake long into the small hours. One for the beach.
Regards PWS
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something happens ... gradually, 17 July 2000
By A Customer
Magnus Mills has written a remarkable book - I can't add much to the newspaper reviews which pretty much sum it up (though it's not *that* out-and-out hilarious).
A young man staying in a village for a couple of weeks turns into a permanent guest, while never quite becoming a villager. Millfold has all the hallmarks of suspiciously bucolic villages, like Stepford, Midwich and indeed Royston Vasey. Generous comparisons are made to Kafka, Pinter and Coen brothers, although for me the book most clearly recalled Kazuo Ishiguro's masterpiece, "The Unconsoled," writ small. As with Ishiguro, too, the dialogue is pitch perfect.
My only carp is the title: clever but off-the-case.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent nihilistic experience!, 26 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Unremittingly compelling, the plot threatens to explode at every page, and consistantly refuses to do so, but holds the reader enthralled. At any moment the novel will deliver excitement, romance, intrigue, lust even, but tastefully avoids it. Characters can disappear in a subtly underplayed fashion, leaving one deeply worried, but no one else is! Somehow the simplicity of the book entices the tastebuds leaving you dying for more but at the same time pleasantly relieved that it's all over!
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All Quiet on the Orient Express: reissued
All Quiet on the Orient Express: reissued by Magnus Mills (Paperback - 16 May 2011)
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