Friday, 24 October 2014

Two Reviews of Rats from John Hudspith and Brian Keaney

Review by Brian Keaney

A novel of ideas with the plot of a thriller, Rats is set in a post-apocalyptic world where feral groups of survivors struggle to stay alive amid the remnants of half-forgotten technology. Think The Knife Of Never Letting Go meetsThe Tribe. It's got pace, energy and loads of attitude but what marks this out from the run-of-the-mill dystopian fare is the voice. Here is an author whose sheer delight in language leaps off the page.

Brian Keaney is an author of mainly young adult fiction, such as The Magical Detectives Series and The Nathaniel Wolfe Series. He currently resides in London where he continues work as an author.

Review by John Hudspith

Her born name’s Cassandra, her clan name’s Bitch Singer of the WhipTails, she answers to Bit, and JW Hicks has dumped her in 2040 and the wasteland that is Cardiff, where books are burned and moon-silvered aircraft spit gobs of electric-blue phlegm at any on the ground who dare to brave the open.

Rats is a composition of fine art, a treasure-bag bulging with succulent gems, yet there’s one gem that stands out above them all, and that’s the distinctly beautiful narrative; a voice so unique, so mesmeric, it is with pleasurable ease one succumbs to the gifted pull of gold-plated wordsmithery. There’s no option but to slide into this dystopian nightmare, where twenty-year-old Bit is dragged through the mother of all mills as she fights for food, shelters with the nameless, makes friends with a ferret, dodges wasp-like fly-bys and craft looming like midnight-icebergs, battles with torturous techs and fights her way to the top at the New Games with Spartax’s Ravens - where to kill is to win.

A narrative voice so frinking fresh it keeps on singing to you long after you’ve put the book down. I can’t give too much away about the story, but what I can say is that the surprises never stop coming in this perfectly-paced, ingeniously-structured masterpiece of storytelling.

Hicks is a word-wizard and image-invoker extraordinaire, and Rats is a memorable tale of storytelling genius; one of those books that jumps unbidden onto your favourites list. A rare treat. I suspect JW Hicks could be Dylan Thomas reincarnate.

I’ll award Rats not a penny less of full stars, and give gracious thanks that such a talented writer exists.

John Hudspith, editor and author of the Kimi novels.

Read an interview with JW Hicks here.

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