Book Review: Pisces of Fate, by Paul Mannering

cv_Pisces_of_fateAvailable in bookshops nationwide.

I laughed out loud on public transport thanks to this book. Like its predecessor in the Drakeforth trilogy, Engines of Empathy, this book is set in a later world than our own, with a few important differences. First, Arthur is (a) God, and the predominant religion that was used as a colonising force was Arthurianism. Secondly, electric devices work by power of empathy. To turn on your car, open your drawers, or operate your toaster, you have to talk nicely to it. Also, things that you don’t think are capable of rational thought, may well be.

Ascott Pudding is Charlotte Pudding’s brother. He is a fish enthusiast. A fish scholar. He is writing an encyclopaedia about fish like no other, discovering powers of perception to assign to each species that they probably weren’t aware they had. Ascott lives on an island in the Aardvark Archipelago, where he fled after the death of his parents to finish his life’s work. His friend Shoal lives in the nearby town of Montaban, and on the ocean. She brings Ascott supplies of frozen pizza, and they are friends, of a sort. Vole Drakeforth is um, well – Vole Drakeforth is Arthur. He turns up when he feels like it. Oh, and there is a talking, drawing parrot called Tacus.

The story here is one as old as time. There is a mystery, some buried pirate treasure, a magic doorway, and some real baddies trying to steal Pudding’s parrot. There is also whale-racing, over the back of the pod of whales which are migrating. Oh, and an extremely intelligent octopus, who is excellent at scrabble. “A braver man might have told himself that there are certainly worse ways to die than being drowned and eaten by an octopus with a killer vocabulary.”

Paul Mannering’s plotlines can be a bit like Robert Rankin’s – just a little too silly – but at his best moments, he writes like Douglas Adams. His characters are alive from the moment you begin reading their stories to the end, and they are all extremely lovable. Even the evil ones are sort of sympathetic.

Treat this book as a sherbert for your brain, between heavy books. Or take it on holiday on a tropical island. Perhaps you’ll find some buried treasure.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

Pisces of Fate
by Paul Mannering
Published by Paper Road Press
ISBN 97804733353353

Book Review: Engines of Empathy, by Paul Mannering

This book is available in a bookstore near you.

This would have to be one of the freshest and cv_engines_of_empathymost entertaining books that I have read this year. Quirky and fun – it had elements of Jasper Fforde’s “Thursday Next” books and Douglas Adams’ “Dirk Gently”, with the added spice of originality.

I loved the world that Charlotte Pudding lives in, a world in which technology was run by emotion. A world in which if you were gloomy and negative your toaster would burn (or eat) the toast, a world in which cars required therapy. The concept of sentient, even slightly sentient, everyday objects appealed to me, and brings with it its own code of ethics.

It starts with a misbehaving toaster and an old writing desk. With the introduction of the well-dressed but seemingly insane Vole Drakeforth and an invasion from a pair of antique collectors who are more than they seem, Charlotte’s life is turned upside-down. The answers may lay in the hands of the anti-empath-tech Arthurian sect, or perhaps in the very heart of the Godden Energy Corporation. Either way, everyone suddenly seems very interested in Charlotte and her writing desk, and you’re in for a roller-coaster ride as she tries to unpick the pieces, solve the puzzle – and maybe just save the world.

Madcap entertainment at its best. Highly recommended for a quick read that will hook you from the get-go and keep you racing for the climax, with surprises at every turn.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

Engines of Empathy
by Paul Mannering
Published by Paper Road Press
ISBN 9780473275280

For distribution enquiries, please contact Paul Greenberg from Greene Phoenix Publishing.