The City of Dreaming Books – Walter Moers 12/6/09 – my first review:
One of my best reads EVER.
• It’s totally original. Moers is incredibly inventive. He takes his hero, Optimus Yarnspinner, to the City of Dreaming Books, a book-obsessed metropolis, where he falls into the clutches of its evil genius, Pfistomel Smyke, who treacherously maroons him in the city’s labyrinthine catacombs. Constructed from books (naturally) and inhabited by one-eyed creatures called Booklings., whose vast library includes live books equipped with teeth and claws. Yarnspinner is in a subterranean world where reading books can be genuinely dangerous, where ruthless Bookhunters fight to the death for literary gems, and the mysterious Shadow King rules …..
• It has adventure, horror, mysteries, thrills, puzzles, humour, villainous villains, heroic heroes. AND it contains dark line illustrations – what more could anyone want? All this glorious fantasy, and pictures too!
• The one missing ingredient is romance.
• It was such a meaty, satisfying read, as soon as I finished I turned to page 1 again, and had to stop myself from starting over.
• Halfway through I realised some of the weird names were anagrams of famous writers e.g. William Shakespeare who we meet as Aleisha Wimpersleake.
• His entire back-story is congruent – I haven’t read such a fully realised universe since I read Dune. The theme, tone and execution are all book related.
• There was a fascinating list of obsolete words which I wanted to look up and now can’t find. Will just have to read it again!
I re-read ( 31/5/2010 and by this time, my very own copy – yay!) this marvellously inventive fantasy with its anagrammatic fake authors’ names – only managed to unscramble five of them. The book provides all that a good book should: mystery, suspense, horror, comic interludes, adventure , and ends with a satisfactory conclusion where the villains are defeated and the victim of their plot voluntarily seeks a heroic martyr’s finale: great glorious grand stuff! Definitely one of my all time favourite books.
And P.S. I can’t for the life of me work out who Pfistomel Smykes might be – any suggestions?