On one level, it’s about fatherhood. Apollo grew up without a dad and vows he’s going to do better by his own son. And right from the beginning–a surprise delivery no one around was quite ready for–he does everything he can. As a father, with my youngest about the age of Apollo’s… when things go sideways. But we’ll come back to that.
On another level, it’s about motherhood. Emma had all sorts of issues of her own, but she and Apollo seem absolutely delightful together. So when the first signs of postpartum depression start, it’s terrifying and entirely too relatable to many parents out there. New babies are hard, not going to lie, and everyone deals with that completely differently.
On a third, it’s about fairy tales and other stories. The stories we read to our children and the stories we tell ourselves.
And on a last level, it’s about magic. There are hints right from the beginning that there’s something strange in this world. From Apollo’s dreams of his absent father, to the magic inheriant in old books and libraries, to finding a postcard from Aleister Crowley… there’s little in the way of obviously supernatural for most of the book… but that doesn’t last.
And oh, does that book shift about halfway through. A nice family story to HOLY CRAP THAT TOOK A DARK TURN. It’s still very solid, but you really should probably realize that this book is very much a Fantasy/Horror novel.
Overall, it’s well worth the read. The writing in the first half really made me care about Apollo and his family and the mystery, weirdness, and action of the second half kept me involved. I particularly enjoyed the audiobook, narrated by the author. Sometimes you want someone who specialized in narration, but sometimes there’s just something special about hear an author’s words in their own voice.
A few random thoughts (potential spoilers):
Some men are born sodomites, some achieve sodomy, and some have sodomy thrust upon them.
- A postcard from Aleister Crowley
That’s… certainly a turn of phrase.
Maybe this was what Patrice meant when he said he liked Apollo because he didn’t give a damn about his military service. Every human being is a series of stories; it’s nice when someone wants to hear a new one.
I like this thought.
He felt so groggy, it seemed like he’d been dosed. The last two days had been an uncut drug, an overdose of the improbable.
You’re not wrong. There is an awful lot of weird in this story for someone who spent their entire lives in what otherwise feels just like our own world.
“And your lovely, stupid child believes you. Then he grows up and tells the same lie to his daughters. And she tells them to her sons. Then, finally, it has to be true, because why else would my good, caring family have passed it on for so very long? Do you know how much harm ‘happily ever after’ has done to mankind? I wish they said something else at the end of those stories instead. ‘They tried to be happy.’ Or ‘Eternal happiness is a fruitless pursuit.’ What do you think?”
“You’re definitely Norwegian,” Apollo said.
Heh. It’s funny because all world weary and grumpy. And then of course:
The old man laughed quietly and wagged a finger at Apollo. “You can’t be disgusted,” he said. “This is a tradition from my home country, and we must never judge anyone’s traditions! Be politically correct, or I will protest you. No judging. Just acceptance. Well, here it is. Accept it.”
And lastly, there was a neat point at the end where they hinted that the act of sharing pictures of your children online was tantamount to an invitation into their lives. When you have beasties like vampires that require an ‘invitation’ to come into your home… well, that’s an interesting story idea right there.