*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author, NetGalley and Orbit Books. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob – a young lawyer with an utterly normal life – hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other.
But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world, and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing. There’s someone else out there who shares his powers and it’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them – before anyone gets to The End.
I love any story that involves famous characters from classic literature in a modern setting, so this seemed right up my street from the blurb.
At first I found the story a little hard to get into, mainly because I took an instant liking to Charley and wanted to see more of his special talent, which was unfortunate because the main character is Charley’s brother Rob, who is pretty unpleasant towards his younger sibling and would do anything to STOP him using said talent!
It didn’t take very many pages though before I was utterly hooked in to this tale of two brothers and many heroes (and villains).
With a character list featuring multiple Mr Darcys, Heathcliff, Dorian Gray, Holmes, Matilda and Narnia’s White Witch, among many more distinguished faces, it would be very difficult for a literature lover to not be delighted by this book. The characters are familiar and yet re-imagined, as they take on the qualities interpreted into them by whoever read them from their book, meaning that there is a chance for the villains to come good if they wish, and vice versa, for heroes to exercise their darker sides. The possibilities are endless!
Rob may start the book ungracefully, but the development of the two – very different – brothers and the exploration of the complex relationship between them is the finely-crafted heart of the novel, and everything revolves in an ever-tightening spiral around the young genius and his reluctant guardian.
The main focus of the plot, outwardly, is a mixture of fantasy and mystery as Rob and Charley attempt to work out who is causing the already-blurred edges between fiction and reality to wobble dangerously. Aiding them, or often directing them, is the indomitable Millie Radcliffe-Dix, a fictional character in more than one sense of the world, originating in a series of fictitious girls’ adventure stories. Much like Charley, Millie is instantly endearing, except that where he is vulnerable and creative, she is jolly, bossy and full of good old-fashioned spunk. I could read a whole series just for these two characters alone.
Emotional, exciting and full to bursting of bookworm enthusiasm, I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy romp through Victorian fiction, and hope there is more to come from the talented H.G. Parry.
At four in the morning, I was woken by a phone call from my younger brother. He sounded breathless, panicked, with the particular catch in his voice I knew all too well.
“Uriah Heep’s loose on the ninth floor,” he said. “And I can’t catch him.”
My brain was fogged with sleep; it took a moment for his words to filter through. “Seriously, Charley?” I said when they did. “Again?”
– H.G. Parry, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is available on Amazon right now!