June 6th, 2020

Winter Sunlight

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry

This was a really enjoyable, compulsively readable book that I had a couple of annoyingly intrusive metatextual problems with, which are elaborated on under the cut because of spoilers. It's a very metatextual book that deals extensively with Story and Character and Protagonist, and to some extent I think how well this book works (or doesn't) depends on how well its development of those specific aspects works for you. I can't help mentally comparing it to the Magicians books because that series was also very metatextual, and I loved what it had to say about story in the end. I didn't love what this book had to say about story. But I loved the actual story on a character level, and I really enjoyed reading it.

For his entire life, Rob has been cleaning up his younger brother Charley's messes, most of which have to do with Charley's ability to read characters out of books into real life. This is a close-kept family secret; all Rob's girlfriend knows is that he keeps getting calls in the middle of the night to go deal with family emergencies that he won't talk to her about. But there are hints that there's more going on than Rob knows about either. Something is coming, something that might rewrite the world as they know it.

I think part of what makes this book so much fun is that it's just, well, fun - it's fast-paced and twisty with a really delightful sense of play and humor, and a co-protagonist with a very unusual magical skill set going up against increasingly dangerous enemies. There is also a really enjoyable female co-lead who comes into it a bit later on, the grown-up protagonist of a series of fluffy children's adventure stories, and the relationship between the sibling leads has all the ambiguity and push-pull love-hate of two people who had very different experiences of their shared childhood. It's the kind of plot you'd normally find in a kid's book, but the more grownup, literary treatment makes it fresh and fun.

I really enjoyed reading it. But I was left with a certain uncomfortable feeling at the end that leads me to feel that I didn't love the book, I just loved parts of the book. And I'll elaborate on why under the cut (with spoilers, but keeping it as vague as possible).

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