Top positive review
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A journey through the Britain of the Subconscious
on 3 June 2012
I like this book. What's not to like? It's easy to read (I read it one sitting), cheap, entertaining, funny, moving, surprising and completely original. There is no other book quite like it. But what I like most about it is that, despite the fact that some unbelievable things happen within it, it has its own internal consistency and is somehow deeply satisfying.
It's a bit like a fairy story. In fairy stories magical events occur which exist outside the scope of normal reality. Trees have spirits. The venerable stranger grants wishes. The hero is lead into a mysterious and often threatening world where strange things happen.
The Brandy of the Damned has something of that quality. There are a series of magical events, in the form of little blue bottles which appear intermittently throughout the story, which contain chapters from a future bible. Various things occur which exist outside the scope of normal reality. But there is a light touch to all of this, and we never find our credulity strained.
Our three characters - all ex members of a band which broke up twenty years ago - are on a journey around the coastline of Britain. But, while the place names stay the same, you soon realise it is a mythical Britain we are travelling through, a Britain of the subconscious, and that the events are occurring on a magical or a symbolic level.
However, just like a fairy story, we find ourselves going along with the logic of this. It is not handled in a clumsy way. The plot twists are frequent enough and surprising enough to make us want to keep on reading, and the characters are real enough for us to believe in them. We care about them enough to want to follow them on their journey, by which we are lead to a series of understandings about our own journey through existence.
In another life JMR Higgs writes scripts for children's TV. What we have here is a child's tale of the imagination told for adults, in a way that is both entertaining and beautiful.
I have no hesitation in recommending this book.