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on 30 November 2013
This is a great read. What makes it so good is the unique way the story is woven together. Different authors each write a chapter or two, so you get different writing styles and different views on the book's protagonists. And yet the story hangs together brilliantly - it's as if each author has hung his or her chapter on a clothesline representing the thread of the story, but done so in the correct order, making for a compelling read.

The effect is similar to reading a graphic novel where each chapter has been drawn by a different artist. The story remains constant, and yet you get a different view of the characters and the world they inhabit. Brilliant.

The story itself is intoxicating - how a simple and seemingly innocuous red telephone box can touch and affect so many people's lives in some wonderfully fanciful yet sometimes possibly sinister ways.
I have to admit that halfway through the story I would have been happy to be a character in the book who just sat outside said phone box and watched what happened to each person who entered it. Reading it you'll find yourself unsure as to what is going to happen to a given character next should they enter the phone box. Or leave it...

All of the characters are likeable, and I have to admit that there was no one person whom I took a dislike too. Each chapter deals with a different character, some you wind up rooting for more than others, and some get their just deserts in a timely manner. I never got the feeling that any one character did not fit in the story, the characters are well defined and have a depth that give the story a direction and foundation.

If you enjoy fantasy tinged with mild horror, this is a great read. The story isn't too heavy, and flows really well. A lot of care and attention has gone into the concept and writing style of this book, and it shows. This is not some trashy novel, and after reading it you'll be thinking about the story for days. All good.
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In this ambitious anthology, there are many Londons. And many possibly realities. And other places. Humans who transform into cats (or vice versa). An Egyptian god with the head of a lion and the passion of a satyr. Blood-sealed mystic circles. All are under threat, from deities ancient and awful and some wonderfully modern, in yer face creations which aim to unseat the established order. These are not separate stories, to be read in isolation or in any old order. Instead they’re an impressive collaboration, a melding of voices and imagination, each writer telling one or more chapters in a sprawling, bewildering contemporary saga of mythical proportion.

This is a substantial book, not a rapid read. Even on holiday, and able to devote big chunks of time to it, I found it hard to keep track of all the threads, to fathom where the myriad narratives and characters were going. Instead I allowed each chapter to present itself afresh: some showcasing a new person who arrives, enacts a morality tale and vanishes altogether – while others return time and again, their plots thickening around them into an increasingly chilling menace.
So definitely bear with the opening third of the book, which introduces myriad characters and sets them on their converging paths. Some of the stories don’t seem necessarily to contribute to the overall arc, but many overlap slightly, each casting a shadow elsewhere in the collection. By the final quarter it’s become an almost conventional quest novel, with the players assembled into distinct teams, and lines of combat drawn.
The ending perhaps doesn’t live up to the story’s early promise – perhaps too many characters in play, too many threads left dangling. I paid close attention but I’m pretty sure that a couple of choice characters simply vanished from the arc, their part in the tale left unfinished.

Even so, the majority of Red Phone Box kept me captivated. I loved the contrast in styles, the skill of the editors in blending it all together, the myriad in-jokes (‘indigo starfish’ indeed) and the accomplished interpretations of street-level London, and of the otherworldly low lives which might lurk between the seams. A great book to indulge in over a few days; monstrously more accomplished than the average anthology of short stories.

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on 24 December 2013
I was fortunate enough to be sent an early draft of this book by the publisher and really enjoyed it. Now I have the paperback and kindle editions I can see where they have added a few little finishing touches that have enhanced the book.

So, what is 'Red Phone Box'?

An interwoven story of people -- normal and not-so normal -- who find their lives twisted by contact with a London red phone box. It's interesting that something so iconically British should serve as the gateway to all sorts of strangeness. Many of the characters find themselves caught up as pawns in the struggle between old gods and hidden powers, while others have stranger fates in store.

The book was written by 28 different authors working together, but it never seems like a bitty anthology. The editors have managed to give it a really solid, unified feel. It's more like a steel drum, all one piece, with different spots resonating to different tones. The characters shine through, from Maz the dodgy magician to fiery rich girl Gloria, and as the plot progresses, they fall into their places on the board -- or get swept off it completely. The end provides a satisfyingly powerful conclusion, bringing lots of different threads together very nicely.

The iconic red phone box, once a common site on almost every street in Britain, is fast disappearing. Red Phone Box weaves the titular box in to the tapestry of modern folklore. I hope to see more tales from this group of writers in print soon.

It's a great book, and I definitely recommend it.
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on 23 February 2014
I so much did not want this book to end but I had to keep reading! Happily, there seem to be plans for a re-match!

If you like Science fantasy, or a good old adventure story, this is probably the book for you.

I love the idea of several people co-operating to create this tale - I'm amazed by the cohesive voice, throughout.

A brilliant window into a captivating world!
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on 8 March 2014
Really enjoyed this. I have no idea how hard it must have been to organise so many writers to produce this cycle, but the effect is brilliant. Snapshots of people's lives building into patterns and then a very tense climax. Great stuff.
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on 16 February 2014
An awesome Baklava of a book; weaving humour and darkness together with aplomb. If you like intelligent and quirky storytelling Red Phone Box is definitely for you.
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on 16 January 2014
I enjoyed this book in terms of it being very different to the sort of thing I would usually go for, and could certainly appreciate it for the achievement it was, but I have to say I found it a real struggle at times to keep up. I read this with my book club, and it seems that those of us who read it in bigger chunks enjoyed it more than those of us who dipped in and out a few chapters at a time (me being one of them), mainly because there are so many characters and storylines it's really difficult to keep track if you leave too long between each time you read. There is a character list you can download which is a definite help, but for me that wasn't always to hand, and so there were a number of times where I just couldn't remember who was who or where they were meant to be. Give it a go if you have time to sit and concentrate, but as a commuter it was something of a challenge!
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on 4 May 2014
A wonderful collection of styles and chapters. A very enjoyable read full of twists, turns, magic, black cats and the odd red telephone box.
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on 27 January 2016
A unique concept, writing in the round with an unusual theme - 'don't go into the phone box!'. Loved this book, a recommended read.
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on 14 December 2014
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