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on 21 March 2015
Where it all began for Jonathan Carroll. Many years after first reading it, I bought this for a friend, who was similarly mind boggled by what the author achieves. Carroll is a writers writer, meaning he is unlikely to ever write a blockbuster all action epic, but does produce considered, often superbly written works, with brilliant characterization and a deceptive amount of depth. Yet, the work remains very accessible, and should not be thought of a some highbrow exercise in literary clever dickery.The end scene, especially, will stay with you for a while.
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on 16 April 2014
I'm not enamoured of fantasy but this began with a realistic edge as the story of Thomas, an English teacher who is enraptured by the work of a Saint Expury sound-alike, Marshall France, whose fantasy works have haunted his childhood. He travels with a kookie friend called Saxony, to Galen, the small town in where Marshall France was born. He wants to write a biography of France's life, and although he has been warned that France's daughter Anna is hostile to such biographer wannabes, he is surprised to find himself welcomed and slowly drawn into the life of the town. Anna, France's attractive daughter, encourages him, and he gradually learns that - well, I'd better not say what happens after that. The result of his experiences begin to tie him inexorably to the work he is producing. Bull terriers feature a lot and so does sexual activitiy, first with Saxony, and then with Anna, though there is little in the way of erotic description.

The plot is a wonder, though I feel you have to like the fantasy genre to get the full impact out of this seductive and adventurous book. As the novel progresses it becomes subtley more attractive as a read. Though it does test one's ability to suspend disbelief. It's a book that you might start out dismissing and then slowly succumb as the events suck you into the story. I ended by enjoying it enormously. Only 241 pages, and well worth your time.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 February 2009
This is a great fantasy book but the fantasy element isnt overplayed, I could best describe the fantasy element as a fairy tale for adults but like I say this in many ways doesnt take centre stage in the story telling.

There is some very, very excellent characterisation in this novel, its a great book of human relations with lots of literary musings on relationships, reflection on feelings, thoughts and action, not least of which are living in the shadow of the great achievements of others, writing and a great love story.

The central male character is anything but heroic, in fact he's pretty weak and surrounded by stronger women, however you dont ever lose sympathy for him and this works well when some pretty nuanced menace and terror creeps into the plotline.

I have to say that there is a real punch in the finish, straight-up human horror, gut wrenching in its simplicity and you share the mix of emotions that it throws up for the characters. However the book doesnt end there, from the shock and awe it progresses to an epilogue which is as uplifting as it is perfect in its economy of words.

I found this book really easy reading, I was sorry when it came to a finish and it was time to say goodbye to the characters, and I'd recommend it to any fans of mind bending fiction like Philip K. Dick's novels, specifically Time Out of Joint or The Cosmic Puppets. It's also a major book for book lovers as the story begins with the meeting of too total bibliophiles. Excellent.
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on 10 April 2013
Jonathan Carroll's books dont seem to be that popular in the English speaking world - I find it amusing that Easter Europe on the other hand, is in actual love with his work.

This sttory is simply magical, good read, intresting characters. you will not be able to put it down.
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on 6 April 2014
Book arrived really quickly,in minimal packaging. Great condition. Very happy with my purchase. It's a cracking story too. It's great to be able to save then enjoy ..
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on 15 December 2015
i love it !!! Love all Jonathan Carroll's novels
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on 16 May 2007
When you read Jonathan Carroll you never know who or what is going to turn up next.

It's fairly certain to be a weird and wonderful journey, and here again the writing is so clever that the unbelievable becomes believable.

A schoolteacher finds himself travelling to the small town of Galen in order to get the background for the life story of a writer of children's books, to write his biography.

Both humans and animals are not quite as they appear - GO GET IT!
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on 22 May 2002
Like many other titles in the Fantasy Masterworks series, I was left wondering how this book is acclaimed as a 'Masterwork'. Don't get me wrong - it's a good book, but never approaches the literary heights which I would expect from a series which supposedly picks the best fantasy works from the last 100 years.
This shouldn't be taken as a "don't buy" recommendation. I enjoyed it. The plot is a Stephen King-esque story about weird goings-on in small-town America (even down to the main character being a writer / English teacher, a favourite King device). There's little to suggest that this is a fantasy novel of any kind until the last third of the book, which makes the climax all the more effective.
Buy it, but don't expect a masterwork.
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on 19 May 2006
This is the only Jonathon Carrol book I've read and I quite enjoyed it. The story is original and entertaining and will keep you guessing as to what is going to happen. It's a hard one to explain without giving the plot away ! The characters are well portrayed and this allows you to get emotionally involved as the story unfolds. Some people might find the plot a little unbalanced in terms of normality and fantasy but I thought it made the book a more interesting read and less predictable. Don't be put off by constant comparisons to Stephen King, it's a much better book than that ! It's not a book of deep literature but neither is it shallow, it's the kind of book that would probably make a great film !
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on 10 March 2008
This is one of the greatest debut novels I've ever read. As someone else has said in another review, the central idea here has been filched several times since but it's never been used as well as it is here.

Jonathan Carroll is a writer to treasure and this, despite being his first novel, is right up there with the best he's ever written.
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