Book Review: Under the Pendulum Sun

Author: Jeannette Ng

Published: October 3rd 2017

Published by: Angry Robot

 

Just listen to this tagline, “Victorian missionaries among the Fae.” Now how cool is that?

But to describe the book, I don’t think I’d say that “cool” is what drew me in. This book is deep, rich, and may need to be read more than once if you really want to grip every level of the story and its hidden shades.

The atmosphere of the book is strikingly “Jane Eyre-y”. The slow build-up, the manners, the moors, the gloomy estate/mansion, and, wait for it, the Madwoman in the Attic. Ms. Ng manages to capture all the aspects we got to enjoy in the classic work, while her own, fantastic-flavored version of it.

The protagonist is Catherine Helstone, who travels to the land of the Fae searching for her lost brother. Things escalate as she finds herself trapped in the house of Gethsemane (just read this name again, you know where it comes from, right?), and struggles to find out what happened to a dead missionary.

Now let me be very clear—I know this type of book. Not everyone will understand and enjoy it, because it is really dense. The themes, the slow flow, the symbolism, those need you to spend time and effort in order to see through them, and when you do, you’ll be in for a treat. So don’t handle this book as a light read, it is NOT light.

Ms. Ng’s rendering of the Fae world is a must-read. Such vast imagination that takes authors years to build. Weird, quirky, and intricate details that are so subtle yet immensely powerful—like a well-added spice. I’d say this part is alone worth the read.

Verdict? Jane Eyre in a fantasy setting. You like that? Then go enjoy it. I know I did.