I spend a lot of time poking around the interwebs, reading blogs and reviews, and scanning websites like amazon, angryrobot and fantasticfiction for upcoming titles. (Tough job, I know etc etc). It’s not often that I find a book I want to read that the library selectors haven’t already purchased, and often when I do, and the library buys it on my recommendation, it turns out to be either embarrassingly awful or just like 12 other titles we already own.
Occasionally, though, I get it right, and feel incredibly pleased with myself, and then need to share my triumph with the world. So. Pardon me while I wax lyrical about Adam McOmber’s This New and Poisonous Air.
It’s a bit posh, a bit literary, a bit fairy tale steampunk horror romance adventure; all wrapped up in a slim dark volume (see, now I’M getting all posh) of short stories. Reviewers have used words like fantastical and macabre, and made comparisons to Poe, Angela Carter, even Tim Burton; while Publishers Weekly talks about its “sinuous, antiquated style”.
What it reminds ME most of, however, is a collection of fairy tales that I used to read as a child. Way before the Disneyfication of every old fable and fairy tale, we had a matched set of bound volumes that collected fairy tales and legends from around the world. One in particular that I remember reading over and over was Hans Christian Andersen’s The Nightingale, and this is the story that was constantly in my head as I was reading McOmber’s short stories.
If you’re a fan of magic realism, remember wistfully the grown-up versions of fairy tales before Disney, or just want to step out of this world for a few minutes, grab a copy of This New and Poisonous Air and find a quiet place to read. I promise you won’t be disappointed!