Top positive review
12 people found this helpful
There is more than one kind of magic
on 23 November 2016
This is one of the most beautiful, haunting and disturbing books I have read. If you are an adolescent, only recently exposed to The Weirdstone and The Moon of Gomrath, I am confident that this book, as a supposed conclusion to those works, will jar and disappoint. Similarly, if you grew up with the earlier works in the seventies and have maintained a love of traditional fantasy down the years, you are likely to be dissatisfied with Boneland. Where is the Wizard? Where are the fabulous creatures? Where is the simple tale, simply told? They are not here and if they are what you are looking for, look elsewhere. But if, like me, you grew up with the earlier works, loved them dearly (and still re-read them occasionally) but have begun to tire of the naive, derivative nature of most fantasy writing; if you are looking for a perspective on mythology that has grown and matured as you have grown and matured, then you may just love this book. In the earlier works, the magical dimension was separate from the real world, but on occasion revealed itself to the child characters and others. In Boneland, there is little in the way of revelation. The fantasy world is always at arms' length; it's very existence is questioned and questionable and, in the end, it is very much up to the reader to conclude what they will regarding it. And yet there is magic here and it is more sophisticated than the magic of elves and goblins. It is interwoven with the real world in both time and space. It paints the world and our history and prehistory in colours far more intense than those we are familiar with. It makes the case that there has always been magic as long as people have believed there was magic. There is poetry that takes effort to decipher. It may take a while to understand the songs sung by a stone-age man, to realise that his songs and actions are a manifestation of his need to have a meaning in the world, to make a difference to it, to not only witness the rising of the sun, but to help ensure it will happen each day by engaging in ritual, like some kind of Palaeolithic obsessive compulsion. There is no chase through the claustrophobic tunnels of the Edge, but there are rabbit holes aplenty that the reader must crawl into and navigate in the damaged mind of Colin, the protagonist, and it is no less breathless and exhilarating an adventure. But it is painful at times, and disturbing, and challenging. If you're looking for closure, look elsewhere. But if you want to connect with magic - future and past, continuous, permanent, resonating - then this may be the book for you.