There’s something about an author who adds his own commentary to a quote by Albert Einstein on the opening page of his novel. I really wish Mark Rippon hadn’t quoted himself, I immediately judged him. But I also judged his editor, if he had one, because paragraphs like this shouldn’t make it to print:
It was only 3:00pm but the sun was fading and any meagre warmth that it had provided was being lost into the cold “sink” of evening. Starlight pinpointed the sky but was rapidly replaced by low cloud and the remaining light was ineffective at replacing the lost sunlight.
I assume he’s saying that night is falling early, and that although there are stars in the night sky, it is darker than the day. Hardly a revelation. My journalist brain also hates the use of “3:00pm”. And the inverted commas over “sink”. Is it just me? The frustration is that the ideas are great and the passages that work for Rippon work well. They are just so vastly outnumbered by the passages with repetition, clunky structure and just too many words. Put down the thesaurus and step away from the cliches. Some of the words don’t mean what Rippon seems to think they mean. Hugh is “precipitated onto the floor from what felt like a cot-like bed”. Not sure that’s right. Long paragraphs are given over to describing a gas inflatable tent, which seems unnecessary. And Rippon seems to have lost the words “car” and “truck” from his vocabulary entirely:
Entrenched in his Ford, he could see their breath clearly, hanging vacuously in the cold night air, and long shadows danced along the snow behind them as they walked towards the Ford, facing the flare of the spotlights that crowned the Ford’s cab.
Don’t worry, the fact that this is a Ford is mentioned several more times in the coming paragraphs. However, in those paragraphs a Viking appears beyond the Ford’s wind screen, by his side a menacing wolf. We could be getting somewhere. Hugh and his colleague Kate soon find themselves chasing the Viking through a blizzard and I find myself hoping they both perish in the storm. Sadly, we are not so lucky.
It turns out the viking is The Guardian of Janus, a being from another dimension. Janus, a disembodied head in a jar, shows Hugh and Kate the panverse, multiple dimension in which there is no time and in which everything is related. Hugh and Kate are crucial parts of a fight to save the Earth.
I got this ebook from NetGalley and I’m slow in reviewing it because I just can’t push much further to the meat of the novel. It was described as a “gripping time-slip fantasy that sees Kate and Hugh battle for humanity across different eras”. Sounds promising, if you have the patience to get past the fourth chapter. And once the story starts in earnest, a lot of the clumsiness is forgivable; you can put up with some of it for disembodied heads in jars and mind to mind communication. I wish he had employed a professional editor because his ideas are strong, his execution just needs a lot of polish.
Only Blue Will Do, Mark Rippon: Did not finish.
Read this for: light hearted, if poorly executed, fantasy with an interesting premise.