M. G. Harris
I’d dipped into the first Joshua Files title, Invisible City, and into this book as well, sufficiently enough to be able to know that they were well-written pacy adventures but Ice Shock is the first I have read from cover to cover. Assisted by good publisher publicity and promotion (which has included video trailers), clever presentation (the paperbacks have come in colourfully translucent plastic slipcases), and the well-judged online presence of the author herself (M. G. Harris has her own website, blog and twitter), the Joshua Files series is already, and deservingly so, a publishing success. Fans have to wait until early 2010 for the third installment, and after the stunning climactic pages of this novel, I imagine that for many readers, especially those who read the book 6 months ago when it was first released, that will be a wait too long.
There’s much to admire in this debut novel, due for publication in November 2009, and not the least is its lack of pretension. Hush, Hush is a novel written to entertain and not to impress. There was a brief moment midway through the book when I thought I was going to regret the fact that the fallen-angel theme was being taken literally rather than metaphorically, fearing that I would find the rest of the narrative somewhat preposterous. But Fitzpatrick is already a sufficiently skillful storyteller to be able to carry the reader along and create the necessary suspension of disbelief. This is all done in the atmosphere of a Sunday afternoon feature film. I can’t say I was ever seriously moved or unsettled by the predicaments the main character, Nora, finds herself in, but I was always fully engaged.
I feel very ambivalent about this debut novel. And I think that is largely because it is ambivalent about itself. It is essentially, and in its denouement has the honesty to admit it at last, a zombie novel. A village is making its last stand against the infection that surrounds them. A deliberately knowing but misjudged withholding of narrative information concerning the infected ‘Unconsecrated’ keeps the reader in the dark for far too long. The suggestions that the book is some sort of religious allegory are laid on very heavily.
Tony Mitton, ill. Peter Bailey
978 0 385 61509 9
What’s so good about this book? Lots of things, but the structure is particularly neat, since it conjures up the experience of a live storytelling event. The reader, or listener, fulfils the role of audience for the storyteller, who is known simply as ‘Teller’. The author vividly portrays for us the village setting and the character of the storyteller who appears one day and opens up new ways of thinking.