Book reviews

Ages ago, when I read Michael Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things I couldn’t decide if I liked the story or not, although I continued to think about the plot and the questions the story raised for a long time after I finished reading it.

Although I enjoyed D: A Tale of Two Worlds as a fairy tale which drew on characters from Charles Dickens’ books and other well-known and loved writers, I don’t think I’ll be pondering about this plot in future. Which was disappointing, because the story was entertaining, easy to read and kept me interested, but unfortunately it lacked depth.

The main character of D: A Tale of Two Worlds is Dhikilo, a schoolgirl who was living in London with her adopted parents when she noticed all of the ‘D’s had disappeared from spoken and written language. This confused Dhikilo, who insisted on continuing to pronounce her ‘D’s properly, only to have other people correct her pronunciation.

When Dhikilo learned that her favourite school teacher had died, she attended his funeral, then sensing that something strange had occurred followed the other funeral attendees back to his home after the burial only to learn that Professor Dodderfield wasn’t dead at all, but instead, had faked his own death so that other people wouldn’t find out that he was in fact centuries old (which reminded me of the characters of Interview With a Vampire, except that the Professor wasn’t a vampire).

From the Professor’s home Dhikilo set off through a portal in the Professor’s attic on an adventure into a strange world that she accessed accompanied by Mrs Robinson, a creature who alternatively manifested as a Labrador dog or as a sphynx.

Dhikilo and Mrs Robinson travelled across the fantastical world of Liminus through the cold and snow, following a trail of dragonflies who flew above them carrying the stolen ‘D’s. Along the way they learned that the people of Liminus were starving as the country had been suffering through an endless winter, and were ruled over by a power-hungry dictator named Gamp, who was stealing the ‘D’s for a reason they were yet to discover.

Along their way, Dhikilo and Mrs Robinson spent a strange night in a hotel called The Bleak House, outsmarted a nasty coven of Magwitches who intended to steal Dhikilo’s warm clothing and escaped a community of Qulips who wanted to eat them. Eventually they made it to the country’s capital and met with Gamp himself.

I caught references to various characters from Charles Dickens’ works and to those from The Wizard of Oz, but suspect I missed others.

I’m not sure if D: A Tale of Two Worlds was written for particularly for adults or children but believe it is suitable for both. Even though I wanted more from the story, I did enjoy it and will continue to look out for other books by Michael Faber.

Comments on: "D: A Tale of Two Worlds by Michael Faber" (8)

  1. Enjoyed the review! I’ve read a few things by Faber, which I liked and found interesting but . . . he has a great imagination and is a skilled writer, but for some reason he’s never really “clicked” with me. I suspect I’ll probably pass on this one.

  2. I know what you mean about not ‘clicking.’ I wanted more emotional depth from D and didn’t get it, but perhaps might have felt that connection if the depth had been there. He is a skilled writer so should be able to manage this!

  3. This sounds kind of fun, I could see it as a kid’s book. Though most kids probably wouldn’t get the references to Dickens!

  4. I’m sure some of the references went over my head, too! It was fun to recognise some, though 🙂

  5. I too enjoyed your review, but I suspect I can live without this one. From what I’ve heard there is a lot of (not so well hidden) Trump criticism and satire included. And even if I am not a Trump supporter (quite the opposite) I think that is weird to include in children’s literature.

  6. Really!!? I completely missed the Trump references in this! In my defence, I’m not a very critical reader even though I watched the lead up to the US election with interest. I was glad to see the change of government but from the point of view that the circus has ended, rather than because I know anything about what each party stands for.
    Australian politics is a hybrid of the US and UK models, we also vote for a party rather than a leader although voters here forget that and voting becomes a popularity contest for their preferred Prime Minister (who might be out the door if they lose numbers within their own party).
    But yes, I agree, politics and satire doesn’t need to be included in children’s literature.

  7. I obviously haven’t read it, so I don’t know how obvious it is, but apparently the dictator Gamp? should be heavily *inspired* by Trump. If the references are so vague, so you didn’t even notice, I guess the youngsters will be fine as well.

  8. At the time of reading Gamp reminded me of the wizard in the Wizard of Oz, although less kindly and well-meaning. I think the references are vague enough to pass over the heads of young readers 🙂

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