Hello humans! As many of you well know I am a big fan of overly complicated books about the fae. Books where people have put really quite a bit of thought into the world the fae live in and how that might fit in with our world. This book Under the Pendulum Sun is no exception. It kind of reminds me of the way A Natural History of Dragons brings the idea of natural historians into the fantasy realm. In this case, it explores how the old time version of missionaries heading overseas to share the gospel might work in a world where ‘fairyland’ was accessible by sea. How did that go?
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.
This book is weird. Let me clarify, I rarely use the word weird in a negative sense and I don’t mean it negatively now. Some of the best things in the entire world are a bit weird. My favourite books tend to be weird books. This is no exception. So much thought went into how this world would be set up and how things would interact within it. I’m not sure all of that thought is imparted to the reader in a clear manner. For instance, I could attempt to explain to you how fairyland works, and I have a fair amount I could say, but I don’t think any of it would make any sense. That definitely feels like a deliberate choice on the part of the author and it makes the atmosphere of the book quite powerful but it is mildly frustrating when you’re trying to explain it to other people.
I thought I was going to find the missionary angle annoying or forced but it actually works incredibly well in this setting. There’s something about the attitude of the characters and the way their mission shapes their actions that drives the plot in a far more fascinating way than if they had simply been explorers or cartographers or something similar. It adds another dimension and is largely what makes this book unlike any other fae based fantasy novel I have ever read.
For my personal taste, I would have preferred a little bit more world building but I think that is preference as opposed to criticism of the book. I did enjoy the many twists and turns the plot takes throughout the book. Unlike a lot of books lately I didn’t manage to guess the end before it happened which was refreshing.
One thing I might criticise, the romance plot is…well weird in not necessarily the best way. It’s too much of a spoiler to say here but be warned when you’re reading that all is not sunshine and rainbows.
If you think you’re stuck in a bit of a reading rut and you want something to shake you out of it I highly recommend giving Under the Pendulum Sun a go. I can’t promise you’ll love it, it’s more a book that will pull you in about fourteen different directions and refresh your imagination. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for what else comes from Jeannette NG!
My rating: 3/5 stars (I can’t say I loved every moment but I am intrigued)
Under the Pendulum Sun releases on October 3rd!
By the way, I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Is this too weird? Let me know in the comments below!