Sunday 3 May 2020

The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet

Right, first things first, The Murdstone Trilogy is not an actual trilogy. It's a single novel about an author, Philip Murdstone, whose star as a prize winning children's author is on the wane. His agent tells him the future for him is adult high fantasy as that is what sells these days.

This leads to a large problem as PM has no interest in the genre and no idea how to write it. After a massive beer blowout in his local pub he finds himself walking on the moors where he falls asleep in a local stone circle... and a voice starts telling him a tale.

The voice belongs to Pocket Wellfair, a creature from another realm (actually called The Realm) and the tale is just the type of story PM needs - high fantasy at it's highest and most fantastical. Through Pocket PM writes what will become the first volume of The Murdstone Trilogy and it goes on to be a massive seller. But, as always in these cases Pocket's help comes at a price.

The following 2 volumes are hard for Murdstone and hus descent into alcoholism and borderline insanity follows rapidly causing problems aplenty for his agent and publisher.

I've been planning on reading this novel for quite a while so when I saw it on offer on Amazon a week or so ago I snapped it up. Now it's over I don't really know quite how I feel about it. On the one hand this is a really clever story. It's really more the tale of the author and his issues with writing, his battles if you like. When he struggles with the writing and the writer's block as his muse (well, I say muse, Pocket is more or less dictating the books for him) and this central premise works well until later on in the story when I kinda got sick of his whinging and whining.

For the most part the characters work well although the ones in his home village wouldn't be out of place in Royston Vasey.

Where things really go downhill for me is when it feels like the author is using lots of 'big' words just to prove how clever he is (or as I call it 'doing a Donaldson*) - the kindle dictionary got a real workout with this one. The speech style of Pocket grated a bit as well.

There were times I loved this book and others when I just wanted to throw it across the room so I'm gonna give it 2.5/5 stars

*Stephen Donaldson, not Julia

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