|Scar Night is the first book of The Deepgate Codex, and the debut from Scottish author Alan Campbell. It is billed as the second-coming of China Mieville; the latest from the country that has brought us Ken MacLeod and Charlie Stross and Hal Duncan. In fact, the hype surrounding this title has been somewhat deafening, but unlike some earlier releases this year, Scar Night fails to live up to the reputation it has garnered.|
Set in a deeply religious city that appears to be chained precariously over, well, Hell, we are introduced to an angel who is not allowed to fly.
I'm a fantasy reader, see that's what I do, but despite years of experience in the suspension of disbelief, I could not get past the preposterous nature of this setting. Everything is chained down, because if it weren't, well, it might fall down.
Campbell never actually gets into what everything is chained to, exactly, except everything else. But they worship the god of chains, so it's ok, I suppose.
There's also a war with a lesser and evil race. The Angels used to lead the war against these savage hordes, but the Church now has dirigibles, and so no longer need risk their holy ones.
Except, they treat their last surviving Angel as if he were the prototypical pigboy of fantasy yore. (But they give him a young female assassin to pal around with.)
Oh, and if you bleed too much, your soul is gone, and so go to hell. (Unless you're a General.)
This book is preposterous. I wanted to like it. I was set to fall in love with it. What I found myself immersed in was no doubt a wonderful imagining in Campbell's head which he was distressingly unable to convey to paper.
There is a flood of quality books and stories surging out of the United Kingdom these days, but unfortunately Scar Night is not worthy to be numbered among such.
Scar Night has only been released in the UK thus far, but is recieving a very big push from Bantam for release here in January. If the book becomes popular, and lesser works with less hoopla certainly have, the UK first would be the copy to have.
But if you pass on this title, you're not missing much.