Friday, April 29, 2016

Book Review: Iron Chamber of Memory by John C. Wright

This is a tough one. How to review a novel that doesn't play by the rules, that switches genres, tone and even characters without warning? (That last part might be overstating it, but not by much). I was almost prepared to take a coward's way out, put a one-liner "Great stuff! Buy it!" on Amazon and call it a day. But then I remembered the true purpose of a review. Aside, of course, from helping sales and visibility by its mere existence (yes, kids, authors need reviews, but that's another blog post) a review acts as a matchmaker between the book and the reader. Thus, it could be done without excess reference to the particulars, but simply by describing what type of reader would enjoy the work. With this in mind, here comes the "Will you like this?" test.

You will enjoy this novel if:

 You believe in the power of love in all its forms. Romantic love, sure, but also love that is inherent in deep, abiding friendship; a scholar's love of knowledge and a philosopher's love of truth; and ultimately, if you're a believer of any stripe, the Creator's love for this world and all its inhabitants. While the story is given its momentum with a simple hook of two lovers in an exceptionally difficult and strange predicament, it rises well above its humble beginnings by the time it's all over.

You are tired of bland, interchangeable characters that populate most modern fiction and are ready to meet real heroes and villains, characters who are more than they appear, subject to forces and passions of epic proportions, and who never cease to surprise you as you follow them on their journey.

You appreciate the plot that keeps building and revealing layer upon layer, making you climb along the twisted path until you arrive at the pinnacle of a perfectly satisfying ending. The novel bends and mixes virtually every genre, from romance to urban fantasy to heavy-duty mythology to horror, in a way very few authors attempt and fewer still succeed.


As for the reading experience itself, I would almost want to compare it to playing a video game, one where you finish a simple level and then go on to something more challenging. I am not a gamer, but I kept getting that feeling while moving from one chapter to the next. Each step brings more revelations, more complexity more demands on the reader's brainpower and attention span, and you come out on the other end having not just read but experienced something very special. This is a novel well worth your investment, both in time and effort. It will stick with you long after the last turn of the (virtual) page, and you will be the richer for it.

Purchase Iron Chamber of Memory on Amazon