Friday, November 29, 2019

The Pursuit of William Abbey

The Pursuit of William Abbey is an interesting morality play about indifference, the costs of inaction, privilege, and the human condition. Released 12 Nov 2019 from Orbit, it's 464 pages and available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

Claire North is an extremely gifted writer. Her pseudonymously published SF/urban fantasies knocked my socks off.  This book combines magical realism, dark morality, colonialism, and a dizzying amount of meticulous historical research into a mostly cohesive whole.

Whilst reading, I really felt like I should be thinking that it was an important book. It is undoubtedly a very well written book. North's prose is descriptive and lyrical. The dialogue rings true and the descriptions of the places and social systems and wars are top notch. It's difficult for me to analyze what I didn't connect with about the book and I think it's the characters themselves. Especially main protagonist Abbey himself was not a very charismatic or sympathetic character. Honestly that's probably the whole point the author was trying to convey by letting the reader wrestle with the problem.

I found the pacing slow and the ending left me dissatisfied (again, back to the onus being on the reader to fill in the blanks and draw judgement (or turn the mirror on ourselves)). I'm not judging; this is an exceptionally well written book.

I would recommend it to philosophical readers who are up for a challenge. Despite the entirely disparate plots (seriously, not related in the least), the feelings this book engendered in me personally remind me a lot of the way I felt after reading Eco's iconic The Name of the Rose.

Four stars for me, probably five for most everyone who loves literary historical fiction.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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