on 27 May 2014
This a great read; entertaining, fun, creative, different. It’s a bit like taking a ride in car which drives itself – you never quite know where it’s going to take you. But no matter what mood you’re in, it satisfies.
I’ve never read any Harry Potter, but I would imagine it’s probably like Harry Potter for adults. In places Brown has an eye for an older, gentler England, but one which is under threat from some thoroughly nasty individuals and the narrative twists and turns like a runaway Citroën DS and within it he introduces some delightful and not so delightful characters. The plot is imaginitive, never dull and will appeal to many different generations. It’s worth the descriptions of ‘The Bonetaker’ alone.
There’s a real talent here for the future and the door is wide open for a great sequel or second book. Bring it on.
on 7 March 2015
What a brilliant read! I bought this as a recommended book from BookBub, just on the off chance and the intriguing title. What can I say? Thoroughly enjoyed this book, it's brilliantly written, witty, full of subtle humour, with great heroes and villains. Even the topical references are fantastic! I really hope TJ Brown will be writing more, hopefully a series.
If you like well written, witty, humour then this is the book for you. If you like Terry Pratchett, then you will love this book.
on 26 April 2016
If you do not want any of the general framework of the fascinating plot given away, please do not read the details of my review in the paragraphs below this one. It was good fun, a real page-turner and a cracking good read. I could not put it down. My smiles were broadened even more by the author's amusing use of incongruous simile. Brilliant stuff. I cannot wait for another book in this vein, if the author should treat the reading world again. I cannot work out if T J Brown is an English or an American author, or someone who has lived in both countries. There is a hint of all three.
I loved the unusual story, whose reluctant hero was a disgraced physicist; not through any misdoing of his own part but owing to bad luck, to innocent gullibility and to the corporate dishonesty of shady and exploitative people. Just when things could not get any worse for our hero, the author then introduced an intriguing take on the afterlife, in whose employ this scientist eventually joined, very much against his better judgement, while remaining firmly in the land of the living. Thereby improved his fortune at last.
For this he had to overcome severe despondency, following his earlier calamitous fall from fame and respect in academia and the grind of suddenly reduced means (little money following marital breakdown, and no likely prospects of gainful earthly employment). And finally, when the new opportunity came along, he had to overcome his own logical reluctance to believe in the supernatural. This after his lifelong propensity to debunk all such phenomena.
Thus he became the most unusual secret agent imaginable, in battle against the most odious baddies of two planes of existence, who were pure evil both incarnate and reincarnate. In this, he is assisted in the fight by the most unlikely team of heroes imaginable. It was touch and go at every turn.
on 4 March 2015
I initially had a hard time reading thru the first couple of chapters and almost thought I downloaded the wrong book. Then, it started getting good. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters. The humor and dialogue very well done. I personally enjoyed the "sarcasm" . Only one thing wrong, I want to read the next book so I can enjoy the ride, but alas it's not published! Arrrggggh! I shall keep this author in my wishlist!
on 11 March 2014
I don't do reviews, so this is a bit new to me. However, I can't help myself. This is a great read.
Hoodoo, voodoo, the inquisition, sceptics and immortality (and that's just for starters!) - I loved it.
TJB has taken normal beliefs and wrapped them up in a pinata filled with high explosives and cunning, injected funny and invited the reader to hit it. Repeatedly. Very hard.
This is a very funny, obscure read that had me laughing out loud - not necessarily something to win you friends on an international flight, but a great advert for a top book. Great stuff.
Already looking forward to the next one. I hope there is one. Newton Barlow has legs!
on 14 March 2014
It's one thing to write a funny book - and this is certainly a very funny book - but it's another to weave in advanced science and a far-reaching roam through history and make it all seem necessary to the story. That's the great thing about this book: the obvious joy taken in knowledge and the world itself serves to season a supernatural romp with something altogether mature. It could easily be a series - let's hope it is - and any one of its themes would be enough for most writers. Ambitious, eh - but successful too. Eminently readable and like nothing quite else out there, this is great fun.
on 20 July 2014
This is a rollicking yarn, with plenty of twists and turns, though requiring a high level of suspension of disbelief. It does get a bit tedious and repetitive from time to time, and you can see how it's all going to pan out in the end, hence "only" four stars, but don't let that put you off. There's plenty of humour, too, and it is very wittily written. Sit back, let your mind wander over the centuries and into other dimensions, and you'll be well rewarded.
on 24 June 2015
Throw a stick on the internet these days at it'll bounce off at least half a dozen creative writing and self publishing gurus. They all trot out more or less the same advice - write what you know, know your genre, show don't tell, keep it simple, get straight to the action, avoid flashbacks, don't get bogged down in exposition, don't jump around half a dozen different character viewpoints.
Thanks to Kindle, though, there's still scope for maverick self-pubbers to throw received wisdom aside and just plough their own furrow.
The Unhappy Medium isn't the worst written book on amazon. The author's voice has a breezy, jog-along tone and sheds wry images and asides like a pale cat rolling on a dark nylon carpet.
The problem is ...
Well, for a start, up to a fifth of the way into the book there's no clear indication whose story this is. The main character could be a dotty museum curator, a relic hunting magical Terminator, a groovy TV scientist, or any of the other characters whose viewpoint opens every other new chapter.
For that first fifth there are three or four separate storylines running along individual and unconnected timelines leapfrogging over each other.
The Newton Barlow plot arrives like a series of propaganda leaflet air-drops, catching you up on his entire life story by dumping a mass of back-story exposition in every other chapter. When it finally slows down it becomes a strange exercise in redemption from hubris as the former celebrity scientist becomes a jobbing journalist under a pen-name and starts internet dating. The story engine screams from a sudden downshift in gear and a deluge of monovoice dialogue with our emerging hero's Obligatory Platonic Ladyfriend. And no, I'm not joking you, there's even a rom-com montage of bad first dates.
One of the most telling problems with the main story is that I can reveal all this with a clear conscience because the story is almost spoiler-proof. By the kindle's reckoning the dating montage is 20 percent of the way through and there's still no sign what the plot is supposed to be.
Luckily any readers higher on the ADHD scale will have been distracted by the brightly flashing stroboscope of alternative storylines. There is, as mentioned, a terminator-like supernatural being walking the earth in search of magically powered relics. There's a dotty museum curator who happens to have one of these relics out on display. There's also a sexually deviant property developer who embodies what seems to be the author's own NIMBY burden of concern with the forces of corporate greed who are coldly and dispassionately buying up and closing down the beating hearts of England's green and pleasant country villages.
These cut-scenes crowbar in a confused fantasy element. On the one hand there's the sledgehammer of the demon hunting Terminator and the demon-plagued museum curator. Flying in the face of this on the other hand there are unnecessarily oblique and coy references to a watching group of gods or angels. This is also all completely at odds with the tone of the Newton Barlow plotline. This seems to have been intended as a conventional but humourous story of a high flying scientific sceptic who malign fate drags to rock bottom and forces him to confront and reconsider all his mundane preconceptions.
In other words the book's not clearly in one genre, and we the readers seem to be in the hands of someone who either knows or cares quite little about the type of book he's chosen to write.
A clearly plotted story about a sceptic redeemed by the realisation there are more things in heaven ad earth,peppered with a few pop-culture knock-off references and written in a light and cheery tone would have been a welcome 99p amazon treat. As it is, I'm sorry TJ Brown and your evidently easily wounded fans, but life's too short and this is a bit of a clunker so 22 per cent is as far as I go. At least it was less than a quid not to finish.
It's the sad legacy of Sir Terry Pratchett that he made writing stuff like this seem both highly profitable and easy. Sadly it can only be the former when you have the monumental talent to make it seem the latter.
If this didn't hit the mark for you either and you're really stuck, try a search for Johannes Cabal.
on 22 April 2014
I don't do reviews but this book just pushed me to say - buy it! This is for a purely selfish reason. I figure the author will most probably write a follow on if he makes enough spondoolies from this one. I will then get another great book to read! Now you've read this review, I know where you live so go and buy it, or else!
on 7 August 2014
Really enjoyed this book and looking forward to reading the next. Great characters, good plot, kept me gripped (mostly) especially toward the end. The Spanish Inquisition section went on a bit too long for me so I skimmed some of it. I was much more interested in the main characters - each to their own I guess. Overall it was a great read.