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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Slightly Ramshackle Effort From Master Of Children's Fantasy

Angel Isle - Peter Dickinson

Philip Pullman described Peter Dickinson as 'the most surprising, the most original of children's writers at work today.' I'd go along with that.

Angel Isle is the sequel to The Ropemaker, which I read some time ago. Immediately afterwards, I started Angel Isle but couldn't get into it because it lacks some of the immediacy of The Ropemaker. This time I got to the end but I still had my reservations.

Dickinson is a strikingly original writer and the quality of his fantasy is never in doubt but structurally this book is a bit ramshackle and some of the writing struck me as careless. There was too much tell rather than show; there were pages of unmediated dialogue in which it was possible to lose track of who was speaking so that I had to go back and count out the paragraphs; and some of the characterisation was a bit heavy-handed.

Nevertheless, despite these rather trenchant criticisms, it's an exciting and entertaining read and there was always enough of Dickinson's unique vision to keep me reading to the very end.