“How To Live Forever” by Colin Thompson

I bought this book at a charity auction because of the blurb on the back. It promised houses made of books, and mystical adventures. It was the houses made of books that sold me, really, because I’m a sucker for gimmicks like that.

It was a generally readable book. I didn’t flinch or cry out in indignation. The language was good for the intended age-group. But the vagueness of everything sat a little wrong with me. Apart from a few vivid colours, and a hollow feeling in the protagonist’s chest when he yearns for a monogamist hetero-normative family unit, it’s surprisingly non sensual for a children’s book. It does a lot of listing of actions and events. But the true joys aren’t joyful, the true terrors aren’t scary – just red and gratuitously bloody, and even then only the once. I never did get the hit of bibliophilic scents and textures that I was longing for.

Also, I could have sworn that the old lady from The Dark Crystal had a cameo appearance as an old woman called Bathline. Once her mad repetitions aren’t needed to add a sense of mystery to the plot, she sadly becomes a simple tired old side character, however.

In the end, I just felt that I’d read an interesting story, but one that just couldn’t shake the Author’s persona from the characters’ speech. It’s the first of his books that I’ve read, though, and he’s apparently done many many more. I’m going to keep my eyes out for his other work.

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