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Showing 1-10 of 19 reviews(5 star). See all 30 reviews
on 26 July 2010
Little Hands Clapping is a novel that is quite unlike anything I've read recently. Told as a dark fairy tale, it has been compared to the movies of Tim Burton - although I am not sure the comparison is entirely valid.

Largely set in a Museum of Suicides in Germany, it tells the stories of the old man who works there, a doctor, a young couple of unusually beautiful villagers in Portugal, and various other people. Some drift in and out of the story in a quick dash of fairy tale prettiness, others appear again and again.

Throughout the book, a musical voice is maintained. Stories move quickly through plot, and the characters are archetypal (though not necessarily archetypes you've encountered before in fairy tales), simple, and all the more beautiful to read about because of that. The one thing that cannot be found in this story is a hero. Every character in this story has something dark or quirky or twisted in them, or in their past. No one is simply heroic.

Compared to Tim Burton's movies, this book is much more willing to break taboos, and when its characters are perverted, they are perverted to a point that not everyone may be comfortable with. Which is not to say that the book ever approaches the effect that someone like Glen Duncan can have - in Little Hands Clapping, the horrors of sinister minds are dealt with in a quaintified, pretty way, perhaps delving into the Gothic and magical realism, but never handled as complex psychological, harrowing, real world matters. And it gets away with it.

Perhaps fittingly, then, the theme of the book is beauty. Above all else, there is beauty, and the alluring, mesmerising effect it has. Two of the main characters are iconic beauties. Another character has such heartbreaking beauty that no one can refuse her. Another character has such sad beauty that a thousand men are touched to the point where it changes their lives. Another beauty crushes the life out of one of the main characters, and his own subsequent actions are driven by a beautiful peace he feels inside when he does certain things... With beauty as main theme, is it any wonder that the writing is also intentionally achingly beautiful? Tim Burton, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Guillermo Del Toro - they are all well known for painting stunningly beautiful pictures on the silver screen. Dan Rhodes does the same on the page, with musical, melodic writing, and a fair dose of cruelty - for cruelty, too, can be mesmerisingly beautiful at times.
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on 3 February 2013
I really enjoyed this book. It's such a page turner that I read it in two sittings. I read it on the strength of 'This is Life' and found that the structure is similar, in that it is a woven-together set of plot strands. At several points I felt that I had to go back to see of I had missed the relevance of something, but once I trusted the structure the novel flowed.
The subject matter is very dark, yet Dan Rhodes manages to make some of it funny. There are many messages about death and suicide that run through the novel, but the overarching message it left me with was that everyone has their own dark secrets, and are perhaps worrying every day about them - and how they will be punished.
Now I'm getting used to Rhodes' style of writing I'll be reading more of his work.
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on 10 March 2014
I loved this book, Dan Rhodes has created a number of truly weird characters, and made them believable. It is dark and funny and a little bit silly. Having been born under the sign of the fish I would have to question his description of us piscatarians, not that I really buy in to all that.
I have recommend this book to many people some have loved it, others may never speak to me again, it won't be to everyone's taste but for those who grew up loving Grimm's fairy tale and cautionary verse. This will be right up your street.
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on 4 July 2011
I really loved this book! Funny, gothic, original; I can't really fault it. Dark themes but deceptively simple style. Really good fun read especially if you like quirky books. I just went out and bought everything Dan Rhodes has written, and I rarely do that for any author.
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on 31 May 2016
This is my first Dan Rhodes book I have ever read. It popped up on books I'd like. It wasn't what I was expecting! I couldn't put it down! I'll be reading more of his works definitely
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on 15 June 2013
It's hard to add much to many of the glowing reviews already listed on here.
This was brilliant, perhaps the book I've most enjoyed so far this year.
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on 27 July 2015
Very few books I re-read. This is one. Buy it, you will not be disappointed.
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on 29 June 2014
Package received in good time, item as described, very happy.
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on 28 May 2013
I am new to Dan Rhodes but absolutely love his style of writing - tragic and sad, yet balanced beautifully with fantastic humour and poignancy.
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on 2 February 2017
This is the third Dan Rhodes book I have read in the last twelve months and he is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. So I am left wondering why he is not better known. Then I consider how black this book is and how disquieting and yet so very funny, then I realise why he may remain ‘niche’ for some time to come. This is a book unlike anything else you are likely to come across.

The subject matter of this novel is something that is rarely touched on (particularly so directly) in modern literature and it certainly does not make for a comfortable read. But this is approached with a warmth and sensitivity which allows the humour integral to the author’s writing to be felt as a relief, rather than a sick or morbid joke. That is a fine line to walk but the author’s balance is delicate and assured; he is not making fun of the serious and distressing events in the book but instead allows the reader to find humour and humanity in the situations in which the characters find themselves.

I could draw comparisons to other more famous writers but Dan Rhode’s style is genuinely all his own; although surreal and truly disturbing it is also at turns truly beautiful. It may well be that I don’t read a better book all year.
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