I am delighted to share my review today for The Book of Sand by Theo Clare. This is a good-sized fantasy book that has a dystopian and mystery/ thriller feel to it. It is due for Publication tomorrow and I wish to thank Century Books UK for my e-copy that I received via NetGalley.
The Book of Sand: the first novel in an epic series created by the late Mo Hayder, one
of the UK’s finest and most inventive storytellers.
SAND. A hostile world of burning sun.
Outlines of several once-busy cities shimmer on the horizon. Now empty of inhabitants, their buildings lie in ruins.
In the distance a group of people – a family – walk towards us.
Ahead lies shelter: a ‘shuck’ the family call home and which they know they must reach before the light fails, as to be out after dark is to invite danger and almost certain death.
To survive in this alien world of shifting sand, they must find an object hidden in or near water. But other families want it too. And they are willing to fight to the death to make it theirs.
It is beginning to rain in Fairfax County, Virginia when McKenzie Strathie wakes up. An ordinary teenage girl living an ordinary life – except that the previous night she found a sand-lizard in her bed, and now she’s beginning to question everything around her, especially who she really is …
Two very different worlds featuring a group of extraordinary characters driven to the very limit of their endurance in a place where only the strongest will survive.
This is a book that completely caught me by surprise, I was aware that there were two stories involved here but how they connected was a complete curve ball!
One timeline is a group, or as they refer to themselves, a family who are surviving in an inhospitable desert. Each member has a different background and they have random memories from their previous life.
The second is of a young girl, fascinated by wind and sand. She lives in the US and is looked at as a bit of an oddity, her family don’t understand her and her obsessions.
I really don’t know how to start this review so it may be a little disjointed and most likely very vague! The two storylines don’t seem to have any connectors in them, two completely different worlds and people. One is a world we would recognise, as it has a present-day “normal world” setting. The other is definitely not, think of something like Dune but with scarier creatures that emerge at night and that has a time limit to it.
The two stories are very good in their own right, and it took me a while to realise how unconnected they both are. It is not until a lot later in the book that there is that sudden OMG moment when the author literally drops the bombshell. And it was a massive one that suddenly changed the story.
Given the slower and slightly disjointed storyline at the start of the story, I found something about this that kept me reading. I have seen very different reviews of this and some feel that it does go on a bit long. Others and I am one, think it is perfect. I thought it was a way of the author making sure we really get to know the characters. I also found that it very subtly ramped up the mystery and intrigue and I didn’t realise that until the bombshell moment.
This is a book that I really enjoyed, it is a mix of dystopian, fantasy, contemporary and mystery. It is from the pen of Mo Hayder who sadly passed away this year (July 2021) at the age of 59. This book is the first time I had read anything by her and I will be going through the back catalogue.
The Book of Sand is a story that I do think will divide readers, it is one that I found was really intriguing and it was the two separate timelines and the different worlds that really drew me in. The end section does change things a lot and it becomes darker and more dangerous.
I really enjoyed this and I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for something engaging, mysterious, dystopian and a little bit different.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
THEO CLARE left school at fifteen. She worked as a barmaid, security guard, filmmaker, hostess in a
Tokyo club, educational administrator and teacher of English as a foreign language in Asia. She had an
MA in film from The American University in Washington, DC and an MA in creative writing from Bath
Spa University, UK. She wrote crime novels under the name Mo Hayder, and her fifth novel Ritual was
nominated for the Barry Award for Best Crime 2009 and was voted Best Book of 2008 by Publishers
Weekly. Gone, her seventh novel, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and her novel Wolf was nominated
for Best Novel in the 2015 Edgar Awards and is currently being adapted for the BBC. Theo Clare was
diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December 2020 and passed away in July 2021.
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