Monday 3 August 2009


A man comes round on the floor of a shabby flat in the middle of Budapest. His head is glued to the floorboards with his own blood. There's a fortune in cash on the kitchen table and he has no idea where, or who, he is. He can do extraordinary things - speak any number of languages fluently, go three days without food or sleep and fight with extraordinary prowess. But without a name, without a past, he's isolated from the rest of the world; a stranger to everyone, including himself - until a chance encounter with a young scholar leads to his first friendship and his first hint that someone out there knows more about him than he does. But that's not all; Gabriel Antaeus is seeing strange, impossible things: a burning man is stalking his dreams and haunting his mirrors, his dreams are filled with violence from the past and his pregnant young neighbour is surrounded by an extraordinary golden aura...

I found this book intoxicating. A story that intrigued me with the concept and then compelled me with every new turn of the page.

I loved that this book was drenched in a layer of bizarre strangeness, and an air of darkness that surrounds Gabriel's story from the very beginning. So many times I found myself wondering if what was happening to him was a dream, a nightmare, or some sort of delusional episode brought on by the confusion he faces every single day.

As hard as I tried to solve the mystery of who Gabriel really was, I never came close to the truth. The reality of who he really is and how he got to be in Budapest blew me away. It was sheer, unexpected genius.

The final confrontation scene will have you guessing and second guessing yourself over and over. I swayed from one side to the other continually, but was more than satisfied with the path Gabriel took. It's always amazing when you have to ask yourself who the good guy really is -- is it the one that's on the supposed good side, or the supposed bad guy willing to help and answer your questions?

The Ninth Circle is a fantastical, unique, odd, dark ride through the pages of a journal kept by a man who doesn't remember who he is but slowly begins to unravel the puzzle of his life as he learns to become himself from scratch. I enjoyed every moment of it, even the melancholy end that kept me wanting more...

The Ninth Circle, June 2009, ISBN 0575084650, Gollancz Paperback

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