Book Review – Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng


Goodreads Synopsis:

Catherine Helstone’s brother, Laon, has disappeared in Arcadia, legendary land of the magical fae. Desperate for news of him, she makes the perilous journey, but once there, she finds herself alone and isolated in the sinister house of Gethsemane. At last there comes news: her beloved brother is riding to be reunited with her soon – but the Queen of the Fae and her insane court are hard on his heels.


I got this book as an ARC from Angry Robot last year and despite it looking amazing I just somehow never actually got around to reading it for ages. I’m quite glad I waited now as it means I can use it for the 2018 Fantasy Bingo challenge.

So, this book is set in the land of the fae, called Arcadia, and our main characters are a missionary and his sister. It’s set during the Victorian Era and Cathy, the main character, has set off to discover what has happened to her brother. While in Arcadia, she’s also trying to discover what happened to the previous missionary who disappeared.

Now, I adored this book almost from the very beginning due to one particularly excellent quote describing the location of Arcadia ‘It was said to be underground, but not. It overlaid our own, but not. It was another place, but not.” This is one of the best descriptions I’ve read for describing the magical “Otherworld” found in so many Celtic texts. I know the author is a medievalist, and all that knowledge has really helped bring the worldbuilding to life. In particular, the fact that the only way to find Arcadia is by getting lost is an aspect I really like – it reminds me a lot of the medieval Irish voyage tales where they get blown off course and then discover magical islands.

Our main character, Cathy, is brilliant and I fell in love with her. Due to the time period, as a woman, she naturally struggled with her place in society and so jumped at the chance to visit Arcadia. While in Arcadia, she stays at Gethsemane along with three intriguing characters – Mr Benjamin is a convert from the previous missionary, Ariel Davenport is a Changeling from London who serves as Cathy’s guide and finally, there is the mysterious Salamander. The majority of the book is set in Gethsemane surrounding the actions and conversations of these characters and I just loved it. We get snippets of Ariel’s life before she discovered she was a changeling, we get Mr Benjamin wanting to discuss Theology and how he fits into it as a fae and we get tiny snippets of Salamander. I was not so much a fan of Laon, but that’s mostly just because I loved Cathy so much. She adores Laon and I just kept thinking to myself “But Cathy, you’re so much better than him!”

The writing is brilliant and one aspect I adored was that the beginning of each chapter contains historical quotations, often adapted to be referring to the fae. I love it when novels do this as it’s another great glimpse into the worldbuilding that goes on, plus it was extra fun seeing which quotations were from authors I recognised from my own studies.

To conclude, this is a fantastic novel focusing on the Fae that has had an incredible amount of research put into it. If you’re looking for a Fae novel for the Fantasy Bingo then this is definitely a great pick. If you want a book set in the Victorian period but with fae? This is for you! Finally, if you strong worldbuilding and interesting characters, this is for you! Basically, I really love this book and would highly recommend it!


Book Review – A Man of Shadows by Jeff Noon


Goodreads Synopsis:

The brilliant, mind-bending return to science fiction by one of its most acclaimed visionaries

Below the neon skies of Dayzone – where the lights never go out, and night has been banished – lowly private eye John Nyquist takes on a teenage runaway case. His quest takes him from Dayzone into the permanent dark of Nocturna.

As the vicious, seemingly invisible serial killer known only as Quicksilver haunts the streets, Nyquist starts to suspect that the runaway girl holds within her the key to the city’s fate. In the end, there’s only one place left to search: the shadow-choked zone known as Dusk.


I received an ARC of this from Angry Robots as I was immediately intrigued as soon as I saw the cover of this book and the description sounded fascinating. It says Science Fiction although this could also easily be classed as Urban Fantasy and would definitely appeal to fans of that sub-genre.

The best part of this book is the setting, which is absolutely stunning. The city is split into two sections – Dayzone and Nocturna. In Dayzone, the sky is made up of layers and layers of brightly coloured bulbs so that it is always day, while in Nocturna it’s almost permanently dark and the constellations are made up of the few remaining bulbs high up. To travel between the two halves, you need to take a train that travels via Dusk which is the shadowy region between the two.

Many characters, like Nyquist, have homes in both Dayzone and Nocturna letting them choose when they wish it to be night. Another excellent addition to the world-building is the concept of time. The idea of having permanent day and night is already enough to play with the usual concepts of time, but in this city everybody is also on different timelines and you can choose which ones you want and change as you travel. Nyquist is always fiddling with his wristwatch to update it to the timeline of his current area such as updating the time in the pub so that he’s able to drink.

The plot of the story starts out as your basic missing persons case, but develops into much more than that as Eleanor Bale, the missing woman, turns out to be much more important to the city than first thought. I won’t mention too much of the plot as being a mystery, I wouldn’t want to spoil it. The main character is Nyquist who I really enjoyed reading about, and the rest of the side characters are all fantastic and well-written with interesting backgrounds and motives. Eleanor in particular was really enjoyable to read about and I loved it as we slowly discovered more about her and her background.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would have recommended it just for the amazing world-building alone, however having fantastic characters and an excellent plot means that this is definitely a novel worth reading and I struggled at times to put it down.