Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Book Review: The Book of Joby

I haven't done one of these in ages. I am still reading at least one book a week, it's just that they don't often grab me enough to tell you about them!

Here's an exception: The Book of Joby by Mark J Ferrari

I read a lot, and it's a general potluck. I wander into the library after work, browse the shelves for a few minutes, pick up a couple of books and walk out. My local library is a bit limited in English fiction, and heavily biased towards Australian authors (which is ok, I just wish it was more balanced) so my choices are not extensive. I choose a book by look and feel if I don't know the author...

Last week I picked up a hefty tome with an unassuming cover and an intriguing title: "The Book of Joby". The blurb told me it was going to be about God and the Devil and the fate of creation, with a bit of Arthurian legend thrown in. Awesome.

The story revolves around a 9 year old boy, Joby, who at the start of the story is gloriously obsessed with being a knight in the service of the King Arthur of his favourite book. I was a dreamer as a child and I can totally relate to Joby's state of mind. This is a child every parent hopes to be blessed with - he's almost too good to be true. Then of course his trials begin...

...and continue for nearly 3 decades of misery and disappointment.

I won't spoil the story but it never gets so dark that you want to walk away. Characters get depressed and angry but not to the point where you don't like them any more. The author spends a lot of time describing magic and love and beauty, always just out of reach and always a beacon in the depths of despair. During the first couple of chapters I was grumbling at the sheer plethora of adjectives - the author wouldn't use one if two were available - but then I got sucked into the rhythm of the prose and stopped noticing. And couldn't put the book down until I finished it - at 1am!

I'm not sure how well the story would work if you didn't have a grounding in Christianity (old and new testament) and Arthurian legend. I think you'd miss out on a lot if you'd never heard of Lancelot or Lucifer. But if you do, then you'll enjoy having them weaved together.

It's a magical book. When I finished it I wanted to start it all over again!

PS. There are no dragons. There is a dragon on the cover but no dragons in the story. Oh well, you can't have everything!

No comments: