The Narrows Paperback – 1 Jan 2012
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About the Author
James has been working on The Narrows, his first novel, since winning a Big Issue short story competition for a 'Modern Midlands Fable'. He has written successful role-playing adventures, and is an English and Media Studies teacher in Worcestershire trying to disprove the idea that 'those who can, teach'.The Narrows comes out of a deep personal interest in prehistoric cultures, bushcraft, and the hidden, forgotten corners of urban environments.
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Top Customer Reviews
So thank you, James Brogden, for bringing a city long overlooked out of the shadows, or the Narrows, and into the enchanted ley light of literature. This is a wonderful book that succeeds in doing something most people - and certain any Londoner - would consider impossible: it casts Birmingham as a believably magical place - although I think it more than appropriate that the Bull Ring should be the putative site of the Apocalypse, as our evil villain seeks to drill down to the core of the worlds and become, well, God, or at least, in Brogden's theological imagination, the usurper of Aristotle's unmoved mover (although presumbably Barber apotheosised would have adopted a more hands-on approach to deity).
Hugely enjoyable and I would be straight on to reading Brogden's next book, Tourmaline, if any borough in the London Libraries Consortium stocked it. Shamefully, none do. I may be forced to actually pay for it myself (yes, Brogden really is that good)
The novel is driven by two residents of Birmingham. There is Andy who lives in the everyday side of the city and there is Bex, one of the Narrowfolk, who can negotiate the magical alleyways. Their friendship brings the two sides of the city together and they form an alliance to stop the villainous Barber, who intends to exploit the power of the Narrows for his own dark purposes.
The Narrows is urban fantasy at its best, combining the surreal with the everyday. This is a novel where Narrowfolk can cut across the city in minutes, evading the monstrous skavags and living in an invisible shelter at the end of a cul-de-sac. However, this is also a world where people play X-boxes, watch Deal or No Deal and own Spongebob Squarepants DVDs. Brogden relates the fantastical to the everyday, with similes that reference pop culture such as Hogwarts, Reading Festival and Jeff Goldblum's The Fly, all of which ensures the magic remains grounded and believable.
Even better, this is more than just urban fantasy, this is Birmingham urban fantasy. England's second city is packed with potential for a fantasy novel and Brogden clearly enjoys himself weaving Brummie landmarks into his story. The German Christmas Market makes an appearance, lovingly described as "a child's jewellery box crammed to overflowing." The Rotunda, "a visionary landmark and a concrete toilet roll," features in a climatic battle scene. Even the famous Number Eleven bus route plays an important part in the plot. All of this makes The Narrows essential reading for Birmingham residents.Read more ›
I suppose this is best classed as urban fantasy, with a touch of horror. The main character, Andy Sumner, tries to take a short cut through an alley off Smallbrook Queensway, becomes totally lost in a courtyard full of weeds which should not be there, but unable to retrace his steps, and ends up ten minutes later, five miles away. . . he has discovered the Narrows. His life becomes entangled with that of a homeless girl, Bex, and then with the real baddie of the piece, the sinister and powerful Barber, who has grandiose plans not just for the Narrows, or Birmingham, or even Earth, but for many worlds or dimensions.
I find it remarkable that this is James Brogden's first novel, but he is to be congratulated. It reads like the work of a much more experienced and established writer. I recommend it, and look forward to his next book! (Which I see is called 'Tourmaline'.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I admit to beginning this book out of curiosity but it wasn't long before Brogden's story telling enchanted me..... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Rachel
Urban horror with a healthy slice of fantasy and humour, this novel is an enthralling read and all the more impressive for being a debut! Read morePublished on 27 Feb. 2014 by epeemeister
I blame Neil Gaiman.
The man is such a literary force in the world of fantasy that anything he touches becomes Gaimanesque. Read more
Fast paced and thoroughly engrossing, this will appeal to readers of Nerverwhere, & William Horwood's 'Hyddenworld' trilogy (Brum again at the centre of an occult alternative... Read morePublished on 23 Jun. 2013 by Hectare
I actually know a published author!! this published author to be precise, great book, draws you in and doesn't let go till the end - just the way a good book should be, can't wait... Read morePublished on 20 May 2013 by ladygayle
I like this. I like it much more than many of the current 'hot properties' currently taking up swathes of shelf space in books'r'us. Read morePublished on 16 April 2013 by KA Smith
The Narrows is a very accomplished book, weaving together so many things that I love, it's hard to know where to start.
The writing style is confident and easy-going. Read more
for a first time author this is fantastic, james brogden opens a whole new world for the reader to investigatePublished on 13 Mar. 2013 by K. Berry