Review: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, by H.G. Parry

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The ultimate book-lover’s fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world, for fans of The Magicians, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and The Invisible Library.

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.

There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.

Paperback, 480 pages
Published January 23rd 2020 by Orbit (first published July 23rd 2019)

ISBN13: 9780356513775

My Review

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review, and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for organising the blog tour. And finally, to the author, for this great read.

Got to be entirely honest, I haven’t finished reading this book yet, because I’ve been terribly ill with a cold. My energy levels have been used on my various support appointments, so I’ve only been reading in short spurts because I can’t focus enough to read for longer. That being said, what I have read, so far, has been very impressive. I will finish it soon, but for now I will review based on my experience so far. I’m halfway through, after some concerted reading this evening (Friday 7th February).

The characters of Rob and Charley Sutherland are brilliantly well-written, they are funny and so realistic in their frustrations with each other and life. Their conversations flow naturally. Millie is an absolute riot, very ‘Enid Blyton-ish’ with her ‘jolly good’s and brisk bossiness getting Heathcliff to behave.

The descriptions are very clear, almost poetic at times. I especially enjoyed the description of Charley’s house and the mysterious lane. I could see them, one a place I’d love to live, with books stacked everywhere, and the other like something from a Dickens tragedy, all cobbles and fog.

I love the idea of ‘reading characters out of the book’, and Charley’s need to experiment potentially getting him into trouble. I was intrigued by the idea that there’s a secret group of characters hiding behind the real world, having escaped from their books. And the mystery of who is reading out villains to attack Charley and Rob really got me. Who is the Summoner? Why does he have David Copperfield in a basement? What has Charlie’s first book of literary criticism got to do with everything? I need to know what happens next, who everyone is and why they’re doing what they are. I’m also scared for Charley and Rob. I also think Rob needs to tell Lydia everything, because that Eric is a scoundrel.

The way the characters change depending on who reads them, the description of the magic of ordinary reading, it all feels so good to read. That doesn’t make sense, sorry. I just utterly love Parry’s writing, it’s so richly descriptive. You don’t need to have read the books she draws on to understand the plot (or not so far at least) because Charley can’t help educating people.

I feel that, if I were well, I’d have curled up with this book and read it in a day or two. It’s not a small book, about 400 pages; even I would have needed a couple of days at my peak. In my current state, it’ll be a bit longer.

So, based on what I’ve read so far, I heartily recommend this book.

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