It’s time for a confession: I’ve been writing other books. Books that aren’t fantasy novels. Books that aren’t even novels. Books that might have something to do Branwell Brontë.
Don’t hate me.
Here’s the deal. I was halfway through The Northern Wastes, the third book of the Fair Folk series. It was going pretty well. I’d already done a rewrite, although there was a subplot that needed fixing. But I was tired. I’d spent too much time with Tom and Katharine and the rest of them. I needed a break from them. I needed to recharge the batteries.
And a change is as good as a rest.
I discovered Branwell Brontë at university. He’s the overlooked brother of the Brontë sisters (of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights fame). Although he wrote poetry himself, and although he was even published before his sisters, he’s been ignored, dismissed, even vilified. That seemed terribly unfair; although he did end lose his life to drink and drugs, it didn’t seem right that he was remembered for that alone. I’ve wanted to write a book about him ever since.
So that’s what I did. You can read more about it here. And now the batteries are recharged. I’m ready to dive in and take Tom’s story into some weird and wonderful places (I guarantee you won’t see them coming, but feel free to guess!)
It seems like an eternity since I finished reading a book. I had been reading the same book at both home and work but carrying it around started to bug me. So I’ve been reading The Windup Girl (think Gibson but with fewer computers and more genetics) at work and Skulduggery Pleasant at home. I’ve written about the latter somewhat already. And this week I finished it! Hallelujahs and all that jazz. And now you should all go and read it to.
Let’s get the basics out of the way. Don’t expect marvels from this book. It’s a standard kid’s book about magic. That means there’s a young protagonist (a little girl called Stephanie) and a world of magic and good wizards and bad wizards that we never knew about. And the bad wizards want to do bad things and the good wizards want to stop the bad things from happening. The protagonist is also unexpectedly special in some magical way.
This is all standard fare, so why am I saying you should buy it? Because it’s fun! The titular Skulduggery is a magical skeleton detective for crying out loud! Not only that, but he’s funny. Actually funny. Skulduggery and Stephanie often engage in banter that made me laugh, which I find is a sadly rare occurrence. There’s also a healthy dose of sarcasm and cynicism that enables you to ignore the tropes and accept the magic and fantasy all the more.
Skulduggery Pleasant won’t change your life but it will make you laugh and take you on a fun journey for a short while. You can’t ask for much more from a book.