ELEANOR If I could turn back time

SFX - - Reviews -

With more and more peo­ple go­ing down the self- pub­lish­ing route in re­cent years, in many ways it’s re­mark­able that any sin­gle au­thor can make them­selves heard above the tu­mult. Ja­son Gur­ley’s main­stream de­but is one of a grow­ing num­ber ini­tially self- pub­lished ( in 2014) be­fore be­ing picked up by a “tra­di­tional” pub­lisher.

Eleanor oc­cu­pies the same sort of slightly un­easy genre space as Alice Se­bold’s The Lovely Bones or Ly­dia Mil­let’s Oh Pure And Ra­di­ant Heart: pretty writ­ing, clunky me­chan­ics. There are fan­tas­ti­cal el­e­ments in this tale of a fam­ily dev­as­tated by loss over the course of three gen­er­a­tions, but they are frus­trat­ingly fuzzy and un­sat­is­fy­ing.

Teenager Eleanor, left to care for her al­co­holic mother af­ter her father aban­dons them in the wake of tragedy, finds her­self at the mercy of a force she can’t con­trol, which may be al­low­ing her to travel in time, or be­tween worlds. But it’s the mun­dane world of cin­na­mon toast, empty whisky bot­tles and chilly rain­storms that feels more com­pelling and vivid. At times, the fan­tasy comes dan­ger­ously close to cheap­en­ing a heart­felt story; ul­ti­mately, it works bet­ter as metaphor than SF. Nic Clarke

Gur­ley has also de­signed the cov­ers for nu­mer­ous books, in­clud­ing edi­tions of Hugh Howey’s Wool, Shift and Dust.

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