Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review: The New Death and others

I’ve been working on a book review for a little while now as a special post for my blog.  I was asked if I would review this book and, after reading the first few pages, I immediately said yes, as much because I wanted to read the rest of the book as wanting to write a review!  And so I have now completed it, and would like to tell you about it.
image courtesy of James Hutchings

The New Death and others is a collection of short stories and poems by the very talented James Hutchings.  They have a rather cynical theme to them, and you will find few uplifting tales that make you feel like the world is full of Good-aligned people.  Maybe at best Lawful Neutral.  Certainly there are some serious D&D vibes throughout, and at least one direct reference to it.  They are frequently referencing worlds of other authors, including a bit of Lovecraft, although I have to admit you will have to judge those stories for yourself, as I haven’t read any of those authors.  Throughout the book, the Isle of Telelee is frequently feature as a location, and the world around that is particularly fascinating.  I’m probably going to go back through and read just those stories again, because I’d like to see how it all fits together a little better.  It’s rather cool.

To give a few general opinions here, I love this book, and I am very glad to have read it.  The contents vary from the thought provoking to the wry and clever to the haunting.  The stories in particular are where his craftsmanship really shows.   Quite a few of them made me laugh out loud (and that’s better than a lol any day of the week.  Lol has become so frequently used that a genuine laugh out loud moment nowadays is closer to a LMAO).  I’m particularly impressed with his use of humour and wit.  ‘Everlasting Fire’ is one of the short stories I got to preview before agreeing to read the whole thing and it remains one of my favourites for its brilliant build-up and spot-on delivery.

His use of metaphor is also very well done.  I’m sure an English graduate (I’m looking at no one here) could pick it apart, but as merely an avid reader I think his writing is elegant, engaging and paints a vivid and imaginative mental picture for the reader every time, especially in the longer works.  Tone, imagery, metaphor, diction – all of those words I still remember from high school are here in full force, and used to the benefit of the reader, rather than to clutter up the page.  Often in books, I will skip boring passages.  I didn’t here.  This is a thrill to read.

To give some criticism, I think the poetry, whilst good, generally make up the weaker entries in the book.  Possibly this is because they are more frequently referencing other works I am not familiar with.  I still enjoyed them, but I definitely feel the short works, particularly the funny ones, are Hutchings’ triumphs here.  ‘The New Death’, the story that gives its name to the book, is an example of this.

Basically, this book is excellent.  I recommend it to anyone looking for a good varied read that is well-crafted and highly entertaining, this is it.  Oh.  Important thing.  EBook.  It’s an eBook.  You can purchase it for £0.99 on

So yes, this is great.  I enjoyed reading it, reviewing it and everything about it.  I hope you do too!