The Chimes

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Books -

Mu­si­cal Mys­tery Tour

Re­lease Date: 12 Fe­bru­ary

291 pages | Hard­back/ ebook Au­thor: Anna Smaill Pub­lisher: Scep­tre

With the se­quel to

Sa­man­tha Shan­non’s sim­i­larly lo­cated The Bone Sea­son also re­cently re­leased, you have to won­der what it is about Lon­don and Ox­ford. But set in a post- apoc­a­lyp­tic fu­ture where mu­sic has re­placed the writ­ten word and peo­ple carry around bags of trin­kets to re­mind them of the past, The Chimes is more The Drowned World than His Dark Ma­te­ri­als.

The spirit of JG Bal­lard looms large over the New Zealan­der’s de­but as she evoca­tively paints a so­ci­ety where the sin­is­ter Or­der have used a huge mu­si­cal in­stru­ment, the Car­il­lon, to ren­der the pop­u­lace am­ne­siac. Cen­tring on young Simon Wyth­ern, it be­gins with the or­phan jour­ney­ing to the cap­i­tal, where he joins a band of scav­engers lead by the Fa­gin- es­que Lu­cien. Boasting a se­cret of his own, Lu­cien re­alises the sig­nif­i­cance of Simon’s unique abil­ity to re­mem­ber and the pair em­bark on a voy­age up the Thames to the Or­der’s Ox­ford base…

The plot is slim, and you never re­ally sense that the char­ac­ters are in any great peril, but Smaill draws you into her vividly cre­ated en­vi­ron­ment with char­ac­ters like the tragic Clare, who can only keep track of time by self- harm­ing. She also has so much fun rein­vent­ing familiar Lon­don land­marks, from Dog Isle to Green Witch, that it’s al­most a shame when the nar­ra­tive leaves the city be­hind. For a story about mu­sic, The Chimes is a tri­umph on the printed page. Stephen Jewell The Chimes is Anna Smaill’s de­but novel, but she pre­vi­ously had a col­lec­tion of po­etry pub­lished, back in 2005.

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