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Pauline's Fantasy Reviews

Reviews of fantasy books, plus some mystery, sci-fi and literary works, and my random thoughts on book-related matters.

Currently reading

Dragon Queen (The Memory of Flames, #5)
Stephen Deas
The Splintered Eye (The War of Memory Cycle #2)
H. Anthe Davis, Erica Dakin

The Cutting Room

The Cutting Room - Louise Welsh I found this a strange book, intriguing in parts, but very uneven. Written in the first person, it gives us a good insight into the mind of the protagonist, Rilke, but the other characters are more sparsely defined.

The premise is intriguing - Rilke, an auctioneer, is called in to clear the house of a recently deceased man. His sister insists that it must be done very quickly. In the locked attic, he finds a mass of erotica and some photographs suggestive of a long-ago murder, and decides to investigate himself.

The investigation has its moments, although it is very patchy, and punctuated by unrelated incidents. There is a great deal of gratuitous homosexual sex of the most casual nature. The first instance tells us something about Rilke, and in one encounter we are aware of his fantasies, but the rest feels superfluous. There is also a violent encounter with a supposed friend who tries to kill him in a bout of religious fervour, which has nothing to do with the plot.

Sadly, the climactic moment of the book occurs elsewhere, and we only see the aftermath, which feels rather as if we popped out to make a cup of tea during a TV show and returned to find the credits rolling. Then the ending gives us a great deal of exposition, which feels curiously flat.

The writing is very heavy on supposedly colourful description, which often seems to substitute for action, and the Glaswegian dialect often feels rather uneasy, as if the writer has sprinkled it on for effect. There is a good story somewhere in the background here. If it had been brought to the fore and supported by more action and better pacing, and less absorption in homoerotica, this could have been a much more readable book.