The Narrows Paperback – 27 Sep 2005
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"The entire novel, from characters to settings, is imbued with the magic of life."
-Jeffrey Ford, World Fantasy Award winner and New York Times notable author
About the Author
Alexander Irvine is a native of Ypsilanti, Michigan. His extraordinary stories have appeared in such places as "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, "and "Starlight 3," He is a descendant of P T. Barnum and once worked as a roller-skating waiter. He currently resides in New England with his wife and twins.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Instead he is put to work at Henry Ford's (yes THAT Henry Ford) plant in Detroit. He is one of a select few who spend their days shifting through clay, clay that will be used to make golems who will be sent over to fight on the front lines. What Jared doesn't know is that he's being watched by secret powers, and soon, he is reluctantly drawn into spying for different parties that are all vying for an edge that will bring the war to a close.
Alexander C. Irvine spins a masterful tale that is one part history lesson and another part fantasy. His is a parallel world where golems are raised from clay, Indian shamans can transform into ravens, and a mysterious dwarf, whose appearance portends destruction for the city of Detroit and maybe the world, makes an appearance.
Armchair Interviews says: The Narrows takes a bit of getting use to. It's not a fast read since the main action is broken up with poetic interludes. At times these breaks in the action can be distracting when they lean towards the surreal, but in Irvine's hands it all comes together in a satisfying and exciting ending.
I think you can truly judge the merit of a book by the opinions of the crossover readers who might not usually pick up such a book. I couldn't stop turning the pages, as there was an intriguing revelation every few pages or so. The dialogue was very natural and the description was minimalist but well done. The character development also was pretty good, but the book really shines on its action.
I found the golems to be very interesting characters and was fascinated by their actions throughout the story.
If Irvine was able to get me reading about one aspect of life in America during World War II, he's a brilliant writer indeed, because I usually avoid that sort of thing. I'll definitely be looking for more of Irvine's writings.
The Office of Esoteric Investigation selects Jared to work on the Top Secret Ford golem project aptly dubbed "Frankenline". However, he still remains depressed that he cannot enter the war zone as he desperately wants to share the dangerous load most males and the golems must bear. Pushing to become deeper involved, Jared soon realizes he may have leaned too hard on a weird door when he becomes a key player in a scheme to tap into the supernatural power of imps that "live" underneath the Motor City. However, he soon concludes that these supernatural creatures are impossible to control and will run rampant throughout Detroit unless Jared can stop them.
THE NARROWS is a fabulous alternate historical fantasy that provides a wild ride through 1943 Detroit as the Nazis look like kindergarten students when compared to the imp storm troopers. The story line is action-packed from start to finish, but driving the plot is the wonderful Jared who just feels he must do more than he is doing. When he gets his wish and meets up with the underground and some weird Feds, he learns plenty of lessons about receiving what you ask for. The supernatural creatures seem natural adding to a fine thriller, but the besieged Jared keeps the fabulous tale together.
So if you want a good read and enjoy baseball, World War II, or a nicely woven plot, this book won't disappoint. My only complaint is that since the novel is set in Detroit, we don't actually get to see Jewish golems bashing the crap out of Nazis, but that doesn't really diminish a fine effort at storytelling.