What do magicians really do? Is Blackpool really the centre of evil for the UK? Is there a spell to make a brokendown car start? These and many other questions are asked and answered in this worthy first novel. To call it a comedy would be to ignore the many magical theories which are subtly introduced and explained in these pages. To call it simply a magical story would be to ignore the rich vein of satire and comedy. To call it a hybrid novel might just be rude. Maybe better to say it is just very well constructed to serve many purposes, for example a number of intertwined running jokes serve to link up the text and telegraph areas where a magical concept will be explained. In some ways this reminds me of the way that many Dennis Wheatley novels were built, around a solid base of history, geography and suchlike, and then extrapolating out from there. Indeed, many of the places described in this novel are real, very real, but maybe some of the events are a little more fuzzy, just as a believable novel should be. An interesting, clever and in some places postmodern writing style, that samples from many literary genres, and one that will be a welcome antidote to all the Potter-esque fan-drivel that attempts to pass itself off as occult fiction these days. Highly recommended, both to occultists and to anyone with a brain and a sense of humour.
This was one of my favourites of 2012 and possibly the only book I've ever read which left me slightly stunned and speechless. It's a totally bonkers riot of a read. I found myself crying with laughter at some of the antics of the Masters and, in particular, the Python-esque crowd scenes were brilliant. I thought that the story-telling was first class and I found it to be a very visual read. It really would be a travesty if this wasn't made into a film because I think it would transfer extremely well and it certainly has a unique appeal. I don't want to say too much about the plot and characters because it really is a book you have to experience for yourself. The combination of farce and noir is genius and Barrow's writing is reminiscent of Christopher Brookmyre in parts. Honestly, this is a must-read. It's mental and so very original. This guy is one for the watching...
This is one book I read in about 3 days and was having to stem my laughter in public as I was reading it mostly at airports to kill time! Glad I took it with me!
I will not go into the plot too much as many of the reviews already here have done it justice and the synoposis helps you anyhow. And besides I don't want to ruin the said plot! But the author Jack Barrow must have been using a time machine, crystal ball or whatever, as his plot of seedy casinos taking over Blackpool has become very topical of late with the governent currently sourcing places to place well large seedy casinos etc in such places as Blackpool! Yet I think this book was written well before all that kicked in. What does he know that we do not!! Much laughter throughout the story and I would say this is a lot of Doug Adams type humour for those that like his style of writing. I think also I will re-read this again at some point to refresh myself of the story. I would say this is a bloke book, so girls buy it for your man as they will do the washing up for you for life afterwards....well maybe. BEst wayto describe this book from my point of view is that it's magic meets carry on films, with some Men Behaving extremely badly!!! Mr Barrow, when can we expect a sequal please!!!
In this romp through a potential Armageddon, Jack Barrow, as omniscient narrator invites reader to join the Hidden Masters, two from Hemel Hempstead and one from Bricket Wood on their journey to save the universe.
This is an intensely funny read, reminiscent stylistically of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett; it had me laughing out loud in several places. What really shines through is Jack Barrow's ability to capture the microcosm of domestic and every day situations, such as travelling on a motorway or meeting in a friend's front room etc; and see the humour within the mundane. The possibility of stepping on the cat, driving a slightly non-descript car or having to save the world at the weekend because you've got work on Monday are all lyrically rendered in this page turning tale of three blokes who just happen to be magicians.
I found this book very difficult to put down and would highly recommend it to all the magical community who see the funny side of life, who appreciate learning pagan history and will appreciate some of the embedded in-jokes.
A thoroughly enjoyable read - I can't wait for the next one!
If you are the lucky owner of a copy of this book, you have in your hands a fantastic fictional first offering from an up and coming author. Jack Barrow has delivered a book that is a story and a book of magic at the same time. It's also very funny. Set in Blackpool and featuring frankly believable characters an unspeakable evil is revealed and left to an unlikely set of heroes to save the day by wit, daring, humour and ritual magic. Imagine Douglas Adams writing a Hitchhikers Guide to the Occult and you'll get the idea of the book of magic bit. Imagine Robert Rankine's Brentford Trilogy and you'll get an idea about the sort of story to expect. I laughed out loud a few times on the train as I read this, so I can only say it comes highly recommended.
What a likeable bunch of heroes, no Harvard lecturers, nor musclebound CIA hunks here. Rather more three ordinary blokes you could meet in a local pub. Not any old pub mind, more the one with a few old bikes outside, perhaps a busy pool table and a mix of patrons young and old who seem little bothered about the pace of the modern world.
One can't help but be drawn into Barrow's world of tight friendships, it's like a buddy movie on dope. The rich characterisation makes us feel that we are tagging along with the protagonists on their bizarre journey.
Wonderful descriptions of modern day occultism, comfortable dialogue, smart quips and observations combine to make it an informative and chucklesome read.
The action never lets up throughout the book, sometimes at a relaxed pace, and sometimes in bursts of frenetic activity. The farcical denouement is joyously well constructed, and I found myself reading faster and faster as I was swept along by it.
I hope this is not the last we will see of this promising novelist.