Wednesday = Book Review day.
My book reviews actually do the worst in terms of being read. Stats wise. But I love them and this blog is built on them. I read, The Book of Crows on the app Pigeonhole but there’s a post Friday about the joy of that discovery. In the next 500 words we’ll excavate four different stories connecting through religion, china and the book of the world.
A young girl is kidnapped and taken through the desert to an isolated mountain brothel. Two thousand years later, after a suspicious landslide near Lanzhou, a low-level bureaucrat searches for a missing colleague. A thirteenth century Franciscan monk, traversing the Silk Road, begins his extraordinary deathbed confession, while five hundred years earlier, a grieving Chinese poet is summoned to the Emperor’s palace.
In a series of delicately interlaced stories, Sam Meekings’ richly poetic and gripping second novel follows the journeys of characters whose lives, separated by millennia, are all in some way touched by the mysterious Book of Crows – a mythical book in which the entire history of the world – past, present and future – is written down.
Meeking’s book essentially revolves around a mythical book woven around the superstition of crows. Crows, are a prophecy for death and are a common theme through all four tales. The book in question is said to contain the entire world. Not only the history, but the past, present and the future. Those that seek power seek the book.
As with most multiple strand books certain stories were more interesting for me. The story of Jade and the boy was poignantly told. Held in a whorehouse after being captured their daily struggles were brilliantly told. The modern day story was also expertly told. An office worker who investigates the disappearance of his co-worker after a landslide. Meeking’s plays with the reader and then doubles back, turning the tale on its head. V clever.
Meeking’s use of language is brilliant. Certain words could be obscure and heady but it helps to place the reader in the setting. The author has a wealth of knowledge on Chinese culture and stuns the reader with complicated story-telling. He lives it rather than just tells it. Additionally each story does have a lyrical writing style. I believe that Meekings has a background in poetry that is distinguishable throughout.
The only wobble was the unevenness of some of the stories. Parts felt more like filling or padding than essential. It could be personal preference but I would have liked a deeper meaning between the links of the crows between stories. Singularly it was strong but as series of stories it was weaker. I also wish we had had more of Jade’s story. I think that could have become a book in itself.
I haven’t read a book like this in a long time. It brought together a stunning set of stories all revolving around an object that the reader created in their mind (ie the book.) It’s a fantastic show of storytelling. A great read.