PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

The publishing industry is in an interesting place at the moment. Anyone can start a small press printing business from the comfort of their own home and though many of them fail, the ones that succeed often do so because they produce something new, exciting and remarkable.

Jason Gurley’s Eleanor is the story of a grieving family. When Eleanor’s identical twin dies, the family is torn apart with regret. As the book unfolds however, we get a very different story, one filled with journeys to other lands, time-travel and self-discovery. It has plenty of twists and turn, but the pacing is so relaxed we don’t notice the changes till its way, way too late. This is a powerful book for mature minds.

Eleanor started out as a small-press work that has now been picked up by a major publisher. On the face of it, this is a book that simply shouldn’t work. Its introduction is too slow, its premise is quite frankly weird and the story is incredibly sombre and heart-breakingly sad. Gurley’s writing style is reflective and steady, forcing the reader to consider every word on the page. It shouldn’t work. It really shouldn’t. This should be a slow book with incomprehensible tangents.

What we get instead is a skilled and lovingly designed journey into a modern fairy tale, one that evokes the skill and style of authors such as Graham Joyce and Neil Gaiman at their finest, especially Joyce’s later work.

Like a lot of fantasy novels set in the modern age, it mixes real world issues (alcoholism, grief, etc) with the surreal and unusual, to create something memorable, different and new. Eleanor is a tough book in that it’s emotionally draining and slow, yet at the same time compelling. If not for Gurely’s online following, we doubt this would have ever gotten onto the shelves of your local high-street bookstore and yet we are very glad it did. For all its unusual qualities and odd behaviour, Eleanor is a truly remarkable piece of fiction and will most likely be on your shelf by the end of the year.


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