Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Feathered Man Review

The Eulogy (From the Publisher): In a German town, long ago, lives a tooth-puller's boy called Klaus. It isn't Klaus's fault that he sees his master steal a diamond from the mouth of a dead man in Frau Drecht's lodging house, or that Frau Drecht and her murderous son want it for themselves.

He has nothing to do with the Jesuit priest and his Aztec companion who turn up out of the blue looking for it, or the Professor of Anatomy who takes such a strange interest in it. No, Klaus doesn't want any trouble.

But when he finds himself with the diamond in his pocket, things really can't get much worse - that is, until the feathered man appears. Then they become a matter of life . . . and death.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): A darkly original tale that is both terrifying and gripping. You'll never read anything else like this.

Dearly Departed, 
We are gathered here today to discuss The Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt. And first, a story. A few years ago when I was still doing the buying for the children's section of the bookshop I worked in, a publishing rep presented a book to myself and the other buyers. It was marked as middle fiction which meant 9-12 years old, and was an unassuming little hardback. It was passed around the five of us, and when it got to me I cracked it open, only to find...

Terrifying illustrations. The stuff of nightmares. The one that really stuck with me was a picture of a doll with rings of razor sharp teeth and demonic eyes. The other buyers, who weren't fans of horror, passed it up. I made a note to read it, but I never got around to it, and so when I saw this book and realised it was the same author, I eagerly jumped on it.

I'm really glad I did. This is one of those completely unique books that is so unlike any other on the market, both in plot and tone. It's a grim, dark tale, from the thankless life the main character lives apprenticed to a man who pulls out the teeth of dead people, to the horrible Frau Drecht and her penchant for burning young people with hot irons. Maybe it's the German setting, but this reminded me more of a Grimm's tale than anything that's been put out in recent years. And it's not just the poor living conditions of the main characters that gives you chills, the plot itself is genuinely eerie. Without giving anything away, it all centres around an object that many people are eagerly searching for, and when that object was revealed I had chills.

I loved The Feathered Man, because at no point could you grow complacent and guess how it's all going to end up. The sheer originality mixed with the genuine creepiness that pervades the story through character and setting makes this the perfect read for anybody looking for something a bit out of the ordinary.

For Readers: Because of the presentation and tone, I made the mistake of thinking this was for slightly younger readers ten and up, but the content makes it older. I would give it to readers 12+, especially those with unusual tastes who aren't interested in the glut of realistic fiction or romance that's out there.

For Writers: If you're trying to tell a tale that you think is unusual, check this book out to see how well an atypical plot can work. Also have a look at it for a great example of atmospheric horror that doesn't rely on gore.

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