Clearing the Desk of 2010's Odds & Sods, Part I

Well, that seemed to go pretty well, didn’t it? 2010, I mean. Not bad, really? Yeah…

So, just before we nail the lid down on the year, let’s clear a few things away that you need – yes, need – to know about. Things, in essence, that will make you shout HOORAY! Or, ought to, anyway.

Both The Terror and the Tortoiseshell and Ponthe Oldenguine got skookum reviews recently! Below I’ve reproduced some of the better bits, but frankly, there’s few “bad” bits in their of them. You’re urged to seek-​​out the relevant periodicals and read the entire texts of the reviews yourself.

Cover art by Steve Upham (click to enlarge or close)

We shake our heads in bemusement at the thought of a live TV show in which a DJ is dressed in a cardboard fox costume, with the song “Living in a Box” on continual play and the DJ shouting ‘Fox’ every time the word ‘box’ is used. Then we put the book aside, turn on the TV and watch some D-​​Lister eat bugs on “I’m a Celeb…” or a former Minister prancing round a ballroom dressed as Big Bird in “Strictly…”, with hopefully some awareness of the irony.

[Andrew] Hook doesn’t set a foot wrong with the writing, his voice charming the reader so that we accept the audacity of his invention, the way in which it continually fools not only us but also itself. It is his best book yet, and I loved it.

Peter Tennant, Black Static; Issue №20 (Dec. 2010 – Jan. 2011), p.52

Despite the horror, there is a fair amount of humour running through the book. Sometimes it is of the deadpan variety, other times it is more straightforward. One example early on comes when Benji sees different species getting together and having kids. A Frog and a Pig become a couple and have offspring that are referred to as ‘Friggs’. He also hears of a Frog and Duck getting together and having offspring: but they’re not called by the name that you’re thinking of.

One of the aspects of this new world is that, as far as the animals are concerned, the rules that the humans lived under no longer count. They make up their own rules as they go along and then follow them.

The story is part horror, part detective, with a nice line in humour. There are twists and turns as you would expect and more than a few surprises along the way. It’s one of the best books I have read this year and I hope that there are many more of these Benji Spriteman mysteries to come.

Martin Willoughby, Hub Magazine; Issue №133 (Dec 14th, 2010), p.8

Cover art by Steve Upham (click to enlarge or close)

In addition to the above, we’ve also had a good number of people e-​​mail the authors and say how much they’ve enjoyed reading the books. While not to diminish the official reviews, this sort of feed-​​back is the one most cherished by the writers, and gives them the reminder that they’re not writing in a vacuum.

Tomorrow, more about the past year, with a quick run-​​through the major business highlights, plus more than a quick glance at 2011.

Let’s have another ‘hooray’, shall we? It was so much fun earlier, after all…

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