BOOK REVIEW: AN OWL’S TALE – FAIRYBLURBS / AUTHOR: KNEEL DOWNE / PUBLISHER: LULU.COM / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
After a flurry of activity that spawned last year’s The JackPort Killer (and its accompanying audio book) and the sublime Sporadic, it’s good finally to be back in the land of the VirluentBlurb. Although, as we have come to expect from the warped mind of Twitter-based author Downe, this isn’t as straightforward as that.
Acting as a bridge of sorts for the author’s earlier work, Amelia’s Song, and the upcoming (and previewed at the end of the book) Amelia’s Dance, we follow the flame-haired girl’s encounter with the Owl, who will become her guide. As the pair settle for the night, Owl regales the youngster with words of wisdom, comfort and caution. What we have is a series of bewitching short tales – told in the inimitable style we’ve become accustomed to – much like those of Aesop or the Brothers Grimm.
Some of the stories are pithy and moral while others are movingly poignant. There are plenty of flashes of Downe’s usual quirky and off-beat style, and several references to events in previous books and hints at things to come. Don’t let this put you off if you haven’t yet dipped into the bizarre mind-bending world he has created, as the collection of short tales can be enjoyed easily as a standalone text; the stories being as enchanting and moving as any that have come before.
Even in the shortest of the Owl’s stories, there’s a glorious rhythm to the words which is intelligent and yet easy to read. The style, unlike the earlier book’s flow of tweets, is more like free verse, but still keeping a very poetic flow. Unlike Downe’s books based on the tales of the wolf-spliced detective, Kurt Lobo, the bad language is absent, making this a delightful introduction to the unique world the author has concocted.
As the title suggests, the stories are all pure fairy tale, and as such are perfect if dark, sagas that can be enjoyed by anyone with an imagination. Each chapter is preceded by the simple, but starkly effective monochrome illustrations of regular Downe collaborator Susan Omand. As well as setting the scene for the following text, the artwork compliments the surreal quality of the prose.
With each successive release, Downe appears to be finding his voice in a much clearer fashion. This may well be the book in which the hard work pays off. If you like something out of the ordinary, whimsical but with a distinctive edge, you should give this FairyBlurb a go.