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Tuesday, 4 February 2014
Buy or Borrow: As always with Adam Christopher...Buy!
Source: Copy courtesy of Angry Robot!
It all started with a fortune cookie. Ted Hall was just minding his own business, out for dinner with his friends for his birthday, when his fortune cookie literally exploded. Next thing he knows, he's flat on his back in the restaurant with fortunes drifting around him like snow.....all saying the same thing; "You are the master of every situation". That's when things started to get freaky. Ted's been blacking out, sleep walking and not remembering anything. Not only do his somnambulant wanderings appear to coincide with murders by the now notorious Hang Wire Killer, but the night he wakes up covered in blood seems to confirm that something is very, perhaps murderously, wrong.
Meanwhile the circus has come to town, including a centuries old man being kept alive by a strange entity. Joel Duvall, the manager of the Olde Worlde Funfair, and the creator of it, has started to talk to his machines....and they're talking back. He's not the only one acting strange. The Celtic dancers are starting to take their pagan act way too seriously, with bonfires and strange rituals among other things. Then there's Highwire, the new acrobat drawing in all the crowds, his frequent absences are causing tension among the other performers, tension that's spilling out in to brawls among performers. Let's not forget the missing roll of cable.
Out in the city, an ancient Hawaiian God is living in a hut on the beach teaching tourists how to ballroom dance. He thought he was the only left on our planet. He was wrong. He's joined by an Ancient Korean King, Tangun and the Chinese trickster Nezha (sort of), together they are all searching for an ancient menace, lurking beneath the streets of San Francisco, but it soon becomes clear this menace beneath has a friend, something not from this world. Together they create a primal evil that if left unchecked and unopposed, will destroy the world. Can our ragtag band of heroes prevent that from happening?
I love, love, love Adam Christopher's books ever since I discovered Empire State, so when I was emailed about being on the Blog Tour for Hang Wire, I jumped at the chance, and can happily inform you I've passed my day lost in another world entirely, and I'm sad for it to be over!
We open the book with some newspaper clippings from 1811, 1812 and 1871...pay attention, these are setting the scene and all will become clear later. The story then turns to San Francisco 1906, where the city is gripped by an earthquake, where Robert (remember him, he's important later) is using his superhuman strength to lift rubble of citizens, he can sense a darkness stirring in the earth. Then we catch up with Joel Duvall, in Indian Territory where Oklahoma is now, in 1889 (might want to remember him too), our hapless cowboy is on his way to claim some land, but the coin his father gave him is tugging him to a strange cave...and his destiny. Then of course we come to modern day San Fran, and meet Ted having a fight with a fortune cookie, and two circus performers having a fight with each other, and from there...a story blossoms in to an adventure.
We can consider the scene very atmospherically set, and by this stage you're overcome with excitement and intrigue, and you have to know more about these two and what's going on, you know they're important, but you don't yet know why. And that Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you are hooked in to the story in mere minutes. I love how Christopher does this, he has a true knack for setting the scene quickly, but with maximum impact, from the first line you're transported to the world he's created, and it's there you remain until the end.
Adam Christopher has a true knack for world building, and the world built in Hang Wire was truly all encompassing and astounding. You feel like you're right there with the characters, wherever they may be. Everything can be imagined clearly, and you're totally oblivious to the rest of the world, unable to put the book down until the very end, when all the mystery is solved. The prose can only be described as atmospheric, complete with creepy circus scenes, and cinematic, it's truly fantastically written.
As well as drawing you in straight away, Hang Wire keeps you in it's thrall, unable to put the book down even when you realize you've just managed to burn pasta for the first time in history. Christopher has a way of keeping you engaged, keeping you intrigued and keeping you reading very subtly, as an undertone to the main action, he's a sneaky one! Hang Wire is fast paced from the outset, and the flow is never broken. Christopher has truly mastered the art of jumping from point of view's and from time zones.
Once the main story starts, we're in the present time, broken up with interludes where we follow Joel through the years, as we discover what happened to him, and how he got to the point he's at in the present day, as well as finding out a bit about what's going on. Having the flashes back to Joel's past written as interludes, not only keeps the flow of the book in tact, but it's an interesting way to take a break from the action in the present day, and find out things you need to know without being boring. There is nothing in the book that doesn't belong, doesn't fit the flow, and there are no pages of useless words that bear no relevance to the story, or do bear a relevance but take forever to get to the point. Christopher is a master at presenting everything fluidly, and concisely.
Now the characters....I don't want to go in to too much depth with them, as I don't want to spoil a surprise. All of the characters in Hang Wire are very well written, they jump off the page. You can relate to them, and they're very real and very human (as human as fictional characters can be that is). There's real depth to them, and you find out more about them as the book goes on, and lets just say some of them have quite a few sides, and leave it at that. The characters Christopher creates are so vibrant, so unique, and all have their own personalities, even the secondary characters can stand alone, and they stay with you long after you've finished reading.
Hang Wire's plot is truly phenomenal, and really, I expected nothing less. The plot of Hang Wire is a very, very intricate web, made up of multiple threads. Threads from the past, threads from the present, threads of mystery and threads of murder. The books murder storyline turns out to not be as simple as you think it is, rarely is anything that mundane in an Adam Christopher novel. When reading Hang Wire, you need to keep in mind that not all is as it seems, and things you read but think are irrelevant, never are. It all loops round to the big reveal, when everything clicks in to place. Hang Wire is a truly rich plot with so much going on, you just don't want to put the book down.
Leading up to the big reveal, and throughout the course of the book, I have to admit, I believed whatever the author wanted me to believe. It took a while for a few identities to click in to place, which led to the inevitable forehead smack, and it took a while for me to piece together certain things already mentioned with things in the present. Never, at any point, did I suspect Ted's true identity, shamefully, I was thinking he was the killer, how foolish of me, I really should know better! I also never guessed at the identity of the real killer, or what the grand plan was, not to mention that I never fully managed to piece everything together before it was all revealed to me.
And that is the joy in an Adam Christopher novel, not only do you get more than you bargained for, but you get a story with so many threads you can't even begin to guess the reveals, so you get to be surprised throughout and kept in a state of intrigue that keeps you reading, all set to the backdrop of fantastical worlds filled with fantastical characters, and a plot and world of an incredibly huge scale. Never will you be disappointed with a Christopher Adam's book, and Hang Wire may in fact be his best yet. I fear I may be haunted in my dreams by the incredibly creepy carnival!