Sunday 26 July 2009

The Stranger: The Labyrinths of Echo Book One

If it weren't for bad luck, Max Frei wouldn't have any luck at all. A self-described twenty-something 'classic loser', an insomniac, hardened smoker, a glutton and a loafer, there's nothing much going for Max Frei...at least not until he arrives in the magical city of Echo.

Summoned to the city by the head of the Department of Absolute Order, Sir Juffin Halli, Max's dreams are becoming a reality. But as with all dreams-come-true its not quite the reality Max expected; he's about to become a secret agent, tasked to solve extravagant, impossible crimes with nothing but his wits and a handful of unexplained magical abilities to recommend him. Max is going to be thrown into the fray - and he can't even have a cigarette first...

If you're a fan of the different and of fantasy, then this is a book you'll probably enjoy. The narrator of this book is extemely strange and gets caught up in even stranger situations. He's often caught between the waking world he dislikes and a dream world that offers him a more interesting alternate reality.

Max is a man with a variety of problems. First off, he can't sleep at night. When he's summoned to the magical city of Echo in a dream, his life changes. After a series of dream conversations, he becomes part of Sir Juffin’s Minor Secret Investigative Force - a group of secret agents who deal with magical problems in this alternate universe.

The Stranger is an intriguing, unique, and odd book that often feels alien. I have to admit that I found it a little slow to get into at first because Max's experiences seem a little rigid and too easy to get lost in. While the pace does pick up enough to throw us into a surreal world of magic and mayhem, I still can't help but wonder if some of the charm got lost in translation. This book was originally written by a Russian author and translated into English.

Still, it's definitely worth checking out! It's the fascinating adventure of one man, who ends up in an alternate reality filled with intriguing characters and complicated situations.

The Stranger: The Labyrinths of Echo Book One, July 2009, ISBN 0575089768, Gollancz Paperback

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