Customer Review

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Disappointing, 20 Jun. 2008
This review is from: The House of Doctor Dee (Paperback)
This book was on my 'To Read' list for months and I was thoroughly looking forward to digging into it. I'd seen it on the list of 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die, and read a number of positive reviews. I'm happy to admit there must be SOMETHING positive about this novel, but I'm sorry to say I couldn't find it.

Above all this is just a thinly veiled map of London. We're treated to seemingly endless discriptions of London's streets throughout. Almost every single line in the book that isn't dialogue is a needlessly detailed description of some part of London. While some have seen this as praise worthy, for my part I was bored stiff. It's clear that Ackroyd loves London and knows plenty about it. However, if I'd wanted an account of every square foot of the UK's capital and how lovely it is, I'd consult a tourist guide.

On the rare occasions he's not furnishing us with dull accounts of geography Ackroyd displays no skill whatsoever for creating appealing characters or a gripping plot. The book switches between the modern day and our protagonist Matthew, and the Elizabethan era and the eponymous Dr. Dee. Matthew is as dull as dishwater, while Dee comes across as a moaning old git. Neither is very likeable and it becomes more and more of a chore to read Matthew's inspid guide to London (that allegedly passes for his internal monologue) on the one hand, and Dee's bitter self-aggrandizement on the other. Indeed the Dee character was the most disappointing part of the novel. He's arrogant, rude, unpleasant and shows nothing even approaching humanity. This would be bearable if it weren't for the fact that the other major character is just a mouthpiece for the author's pretentious waffling about what a smashing place London is.

The book falls between far too many stools. It's a half-interesting ghost story mixed with a not-very-interesting contemporary detective element, a painfully boring geography lecture and a guide to Elizabethan England provided by an Alf Garnett type character who's had his sense of humour surgically removed.

Overall it was a huge disappointment that found nearly impossible to finish.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Nov 2012 23:18:49 GMT
I couldn`t agree more - this is the worst book I have ever read! I too am finding it a real challenge to gather the will power to finish it - I am about ¾ of the way through. I will write a review (short one) when I`m done...yawn.
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