I know that enjoyment per se is not part of the Carnegie criteria so it’s perhaps a bit redundant to say it but I’ve really enjoyed reading this book – it’s a true page turner! Lake shows himself to be a masterful storyteller spinning out the suspense from the get go. We’re told that “There will be two lies. And then there will be the truth” but to say that there will be twists and turns and red herrings along the way would be an understatement.
There’s superb plotting but there’s also fantastic characterisation – Shelby is a wonderful narrator with a really distinctive voice. And through Shelby, Lake introduces some pretty big topics about the nature of identity, sense of self and survival. It’s also a very clever book where the boundaries between what is real and not real are artfully blurred; as one reviewer puts it ‘the mythic reflecting the mundane’. Indeed, whether or not the Dreaming really happened remains a hot topic in our shadowing group to this day.
However, the thing that I really enjoyed and the thing that stood out the most for me was the fact that this book was also doing something textually a bit different. Lake uses the form and layout of his pages to great effect – so that there’s an extra layer to our reading experience. With ellipses denoting missed conversation and whole sections of blank page to suggest the passing of time or indeed the journey to another time/space our reading of the book is necessarily more active. There’s certainly lots there for some good discussions with Shadowers about the author’s style and how such devices affect our reading of both characters and the plot in general. Plus the punctuation elk has to be one of the most endearing things I’ve seen in a book all year!