To be honest, I bought this book because I wanted to read Across The Wall, the final novella in the Abhorsen series. Imagine my delight then, when I discovered twelve other wonderful short stories, almost all with Nix’s characteristic fantastical twist! Enchanted, that’s what I was.
Let me deal with the shorties first before I review Across The Wall.
I really am hard-pressed to choose a favourite, but I think the joint award goes to Hope Chest, Under the Lake, Heart’s Desire and Hansel’s Eyes.
What’s so intriguing about this book, is that Nix explains how each story came to be written, giving such insight into him as an author. Anyway, Hope Chest grew out of his love for spaghetti Westerns. This magical story shows us what happens when a Hitler-like figure arrives in a small town, where the enigmatic ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ Alice May lives. The result is both bloody and compelling. It has an almost dystopian feel. Wonderful.
Although Nix claims to hate the Arthurian legend, there are two stories based on that mythology. Under the Lake - a twist on the Lady of the Lake - and Heart’s Desire – the story of Merlin and Nimue. Both feature Merlin, but in very different guises. And trust me, there is definitely be something lurking at the bottom of that lake, but she’s no lady!
Hansel’s Eyes is a modern-day retelling of the Grimm’s classic, complete with a ‘Hagmum’. A fantastic page-turner filled with equal parts of humour and terror.
Finally, Across The Wall . . . In this action-packed novella, Nicholas Sayre – one of my favourite fictional characters – makes his way from Ancelstierre to the Old Kingdom – and Lirael. The story ends with all the implied love left hanging at the end of the Abhorsen series. And hopefully with room for more books seen from Nicholas and Lirael’s POV. Please, Garth Nix, please! Because this story is set in Ancelstierre, Nix had to create a new world, and he drew heavily on the writing of another favourite author of mine, PG Wodehouse, for his country house setting. It worked very well. Still, I was sad when the book ended. I for one am just not ready to leave the Old Kingdom yet.
As an author, I find great inspiration in Garth Nix's books, so if you choose to follow my blog, beware, you will be hearing more about his brilliant work.
I give this book four stars. Across The Wall gets a full five.