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The Alehouse at the End of the World

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When a fisherman receives a mysterious letter about his beloved's demise, he sets off in his skiff to find her. A whale swallows him, then deposits him on the Isle of the Dead, which is ruled by a trio of giant bird gods. The fisherman must negotiate with the self-proclaimed leader -- a narcissistic, bullying crow -- to return his beloved to physical form. In "The Alehouse When a fisherman receives a mysterious letter about his beloved's demise, he sets off in his skiff to find her. A whale swallows him, then deposits him on the Isle of the Dead, which is ruled by a trio of giant bird gods. The fisherman must negotiate with the self-proclaimed leader -- a narcissistic, bullying crow -- to return his beloved to physical form. In "The Alehouse at the End of the World," an epic comedy set in the sixteenth century, bawdy Shakespearian love triangles play out with shapeshifting avian demigods and a fertility goddess, drunken revelry, and bio-dynamic gardening. A raucous, aw-aw-aw-awe-inspiring romp, Stevan Allred's second book is a juicy fable for adults and a hopeful tale for troubled times.


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When a fisherman receives a mysterious letter about his beloved's demise, he sets off in his skiff to find her. A whale swallows him, then deposits him on the Isle of the Dead, which is ruled by a trio of giant bird gods. The fisherman must negotiate with the self-proclaimed leader -- a narcissistic, bullying crow -- to return his beloved to physical form. In "The Alehouse When a fisherman receives a mysterious letter about his beloved's demise, he sets off in his skiff to find her. A whale swallows him, then deposits him on the Isle of the Dead, which is ruled by a trio of giant bird gods. The fisherman must negotiate with the self-proclaimed leader -- a narcissistic, bullying crow -- to return his beloved to physical form. In "The Alehouse at the End of the World," an epic comedy set in the sixteenth century, bawdy Shakespearian love triangles play out with shapeshifting avian demigods and a fertility goddess, drunken revelry, and bio-dynamic gardening. A raucous, aw-aw-aw-awe-inspiring romp, Stevan Allred's second book is a juicy fable for adults and a hopeful tale for troubled times.

48 review for The Alehouse at the End of the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Ferro

    Over at Heavy Feather Review, I had the true pleasure to review Stevan Allred's new novel, THE ALEHOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD (Forest Avenue Press). Folks, this one is a doozy: a medieval-esque fantasy tale set to the tune of Monty Python that is both hilarious and enlightening. A story of tyrants, friendship, and perseverance that is not only brilliant and fun, but quite timely in this modern America: "Though the antagonist of this book is an egotistical crow god hellbent on ruling the Isle of Over at Heavy Feather Review, I had the true pleasure to review Stevan Allred's new novel, THE ALEHOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD (Forest Avenue Press). Folks, this one is a doozy: a medieval-esque fantasy tale set to the tune of Monty Python that is both hilarious and enlightening. A story of tyrants, friendship, and perseverance that is not only brilliant and fun, but quite timely in this modern America: "Though the antagonist of this book is an egotistical crow god hellbent on ruling the Isle of the Dead through fear, intimidation, and a demand for blind admiration, it should come as no surprise that the story draws some immediate parallels to the orange man who currently sits in the oval office." FULL REVIEW: https://heavyfeatherreview.org/2018/1...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dianah

    There's all manner of craziness in The Alehouse at the End of the World: a giant beast who's swallowed the spirit world, a hairless blue fisherman, a trio of shape-shifting god-birds, a self-aggrandizing (Trumpian?) crow, The Isle of the Dead, a feathered goddess, and a dead woman who's.... well, you'll see. Yet underneath these fantastical guises, lie the same hearts that can be found in all of us; some are kind, some are driven, some are evil, some are insatiable, and in spite of their non-hum There's all manner of craziness in The Alehouse at the End of the World: a giant beast who's swallowed the spirit world, a hairless blue fisherman, a trio of shape-shifting god-birds, a self-aggrandizing (Trumpian?) crow, The Isle of the Dead, a feathered goddess, and a dead woman who's.... well, you'll see. Yet underneath these fantastical guises, lie the same hearts that can be found in all of us; some are kind, some are driven, some are evil, some are insatiable, and in spite of their non-human forms, they are all so very human. In this magical world, the net of a dark fate tightens around the existence of this motley crew, and an apocalypse brews on the horizon. This is why adults still need fairy tales: there are some archetypes more familiar than our own faces, and they help us survive, they teach us to live, they compel us to grow. Allred has the sly and quixotic writing chops to pull off this charming story, which is both wickedly funny and achingly poignant. He manages his characters as well as a puppeteer, and imbues them with such heartfelt passion and pathos, it's mesmerizing. Do not miss this delightful tale that will remind you how precious humanity is, in whichever form you find it. Bravo!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gerry

    Once again I am confused by publishing dates but hey ho. Netgalley tells me this is released on the 16th November but Goodreads tells me its 11th November so I’ll go with that. I am also confused by this book. Sorry. I picked it up because something about it seemed very Terry Pratchett esque and from what I’ve read since, I am not the only person who got that vibe. I think it’s something to do with the merging of fables/ Shakespeare/ comedy and human foibles which is something that Terry Pratchett Once again I am confused by publishing dates but hey ho. Netgalley tells me this is released on the 16th November but Goodreads tells me its 11th November so I’ll go with that. I am also confused by this book. Sorry. I picked it up because something about it seemed very Terry Pratchett esque and from what I’ve read since, I am not the only person who got that vibe. I think it’s something to do with the merging of fables/ Shakespeare/ comedy and human foibles which is something that Terry Pratchett did amazingly well at. Now don’t get me wrong, Terry Pratchett is inimitable and to be fair, The Alehouse at the End of the World doesn’t advertise itself as being like Terry Pratchett in any way. But it’s interesting that I wasn’t the only person who was thinking along the Pratchett lines. It’s nothing like a Terry Pratchett book. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. Thinking it would vibe the same. In some ways yes, it did. It’s quirky and highly imaginative and if you took a bunch of LSD and went to an aviary I’m sure the experience you would have there is similar to the experience you would have reading this book. A trippy head funk involving a lot of birds. This is billed (no pun intended, ok maybe a little pun intended) as a bawdy comedy. Now comedy is hard and very subjective. If you found this book funny than you will rate it higher than what I am rating. Unfortunately I didn’t find it funny. When something is a comedy that’s a problem and it’s a problem that I couldn’t overcome. I wasn’t too sure where the humour was supposed to be derived from – was it the excessive mentions of the crow eating up body parts of dead humans and his obsession with the nipples and scrota? Was it how drunk they all got when an alehouse was finally built? Was it the constant references to the bird god’s bulging loincloths?! That is the other thing I just couldn’t gel with. There was so much crudity. This is coming from someone who has written smut in fiction. Ahem. But I swear I am no prude. I just didn’t enjoy the over sexualisation of the female characters and the constant mention of their breasts. I counted how many times the word ‘breast’ featured in one paragraph and it was five. Five. Boobs. This book was about boobs. And worse… it was about boobs on bird women. Maybe I’m missing something here but I guess I just didn’t need descriptions of sexy bird women or the explanation that bird men have massive penises. Am I allowed to say penis in a review? Am I allowed to say it in an ARC review?! The sex scenes were plentiful and uncomfortable and unfortunately this book used one of the tropes that I hate the most in the world and used it for humour. We are talking ‘The Bed Trick’ where someone pretends to be someone else in order to bed a person. I don’t like it when it’s used flippantly and for ‘fun’. It’s personal preference but I don’t. Sorry. A male character beats a female character. This same male character spews some nasty things about women. I understand that this character is not nice and his actions and viewpoints are not presented as a good thing but the female characters desire, admire and love him all the same and again…. I didn’t like it. I understand the message is, ‘you can’t help who you desire or love’, but there was almost a vibe of, ‘oh well, you know what he’s like,’ about it. For me the plot was a little on the slow side and the big battle didn’t really have much in the way of build up. It was definitely more of a sexy, bed swapping tale between bird people and reanimated souls than a fight to see who would control the Isle of the Dead and who would save the world from being swallowed up. I’ll stop now because I feel like I’m beating a dead corvid with a stick and they don’t deserve that because corvid’s are awesome. The authors imagination is boundless and I’m sure that more inventive and quirky stories will present themselves but sadly this one just wasn’t for me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Rowan

    I'm not entirely sure what to say about this book because while it intrigued and amused me, it also often flummoxed me. I will say that it was never what I expected, and that's often a good thing in terms of my reading. Stevan Allred has produced a novel that often reads like an R-rated cross between a Shakespearean comedy and Alice in Wonderland, a world run by bird gods and goddesses. There's also a good deal of sex, and some excellent ale. The man, a sailor and fisherman, learns that his belov I'm not entirely sure what to say about this book because while it intrigued and amused me, it also often flummoxed me. I will say that it was never what I expected, and that's often a good thing in terms of my reading. Stevan Allred has produced a novel that often reads like an R-rated cross between a Shakespearean comedy and Alice in Wonderland, a world run by bird gods and goddesses. There's also a good deal of sex, and some excellent ale. The man, a sailor and fisherman, learns that his beloved has died, and goes to the afterlife to find her. Right away we get an updated Orpheus riff when the fisherman discovers that his beloved's soul is hidden in a clamshell in the sand, waiting for her rebirth. But he wants her back, and to that end, he has to find a woman who can wet-nurse the little clam-soul back to life.  But that isn't the end of his quest because there's an enormous creature that is poised to devour the universe unless he helps a fertility goddess, two bird gods, and a six-foot frigate bird destroy it. There's always a catch, isn't there? Allred's imagination is vivid, colored by what feels like an encyclopedic knowledge of myth and religion, pop culture, literature, and more. The novel is funny, bawdy, thoughtful and forthright. It won my admiration by placing the female characters at the heart of the story, and allowing them the freedom to both discover and indulge their sexuality without judgment.  And there are love stories aplenty, not just romantic/sexual love, but the love of friends. It's rich and rewarding if you are patient with the unfolding of the story.  And if you are, if you finish the book, I'm guessing you'll be surprised by the ending, and not a little moved by it. It is so very unexpected, and so very right.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Doug Chase

    I was fortunate to read an early galley of Stevan Allred’s new book. It is amazing. A fable, an adventure, a story filled with treats for us lovers of words and culture and the world. This is one of the rare books I never wanted to end. Completely satisfying, dramatic, hilarious, a wonderful world. I’ll buy a lot of copies for my holiday gift list.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Justin Hofstetter

    I had very high hopes for this one, but it reads so much more like a genre study and academic exercise than an engaging narrative. Part Divine Comedy, part Orpheus in the Underworld, this novel told in the form of a fable never really gained any momentum for me; if the book were half as entertaining as the footnotes sprinkled throughout (which were a treat and a welcome distraction), I'd have had a much better time reading this.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. DNF at 43% The premise of The Alehouse at the End of the World immediately caught my attention. Boasting the underworld (of a sorts), talking birds, and fate, I hoped this would be a sort of Terry Pratchett-esque romp full of funny asides and satire. There definitely are funny asides -- the footnotes were one of the elements of the story I found the most entertaining -- but Alehouse doesn't quite feel like Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. DNF at 43% The premise of The Alehouse at the End of the World immediately caught my attention. Boasting the underworld (of a sorts), talking birds, and fate, I hoped this would be a sort of Terry Pratchett-esque romp full of funny asides and satire. There definitely are funny asides -- the footnotes were one of the elements of the story I found the most entertaining -- but Alehouse doesn't quite feel like a romp. The story follows an unnamed fisherman who travels to the Isle of the Dead with the hopes of rescuing his beloved. Things do not go according to plan, partially because the Isle of the Dead has come under new leadership at the hands of the boasting crow. There are lots of references to myths and ancient civilizations that have informed the interesting underworld the author created in Alehouse. A lot of these references went right over my head, but someone who is well-versed in these texts would probably gain a lot more enjoyment from this book. Perhaps the biggest thing I couldn't get beyond was the treatment of the female characters in this story. It's worth mentioning that things could get better, since I didn't finish the story, but the three female characters lacked the depth and autonomy given to the male characters. These females exist in the book primarily as objects to be coveted by the males. Two out of three perfectly fall into the tropes of doting caregiver and sex object. The fisherman's beloved does have a bit more nuance to her (view spoiler)[but the fisherman's aggressive desire to win her back even though she keeps telling him no made me deeply uncomfortable. (hide spoiler)] The male characters are given complex motivations and funny lines of dialogue. The females? Not so much. This only got worse as the book went on and was one of the largest reasons I quit reading. The Alehouse at the End of the World is by no means a bad book, just one that wasn't for me. I would describe this more as a literary work than a fantastical one, as the fantasy elements don't play a huge role in the story and serve mainly to support the classical-feeling plot. If you really like descriptive writing and references to lesser-known mythology, Alehouse executes those elements well. Overall, this is a character-driven story that has the feel of a classic epic poem rather than a fantasy novel.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin O'Connor

    A thoughtful look at romantic relationships and what makes a hero. A fisherman gladly gives up everything to join his beloved on the Isle of the Dead, but nothing is even close to what he expected to find when he gets there. His beloved Carina’s soul lies hidden in one of the many clams buried along the shore of the Isle of the Dead and to find it he’ll have to make a deal with the cunning and tyrannical Crow god who rules here. I’m quite fond of the mythological concept wherein people travel to A thoughtful look at romantic relationships and what makes a hero. A fisherman gladly gives up everything to join his beloved on the Isle of the Dead, but nothing is even close to what he expected to find when he gets there. His beloved Carina’s soul lies hidden in one of the many clams buried along the shore of the Isle of the Dead and to find it he’ll have to make a deal with the cunning and tyrannical Crow god who rules here. I’m quite fond of the mythological concept wherein people travel to the realm of the dead in search of lost loves, but that journey is almost incidental to the plot. There are far greater stakes at play in the fisherman’s quest to return to the material world with Carina. The Kiamah, a mighty beast born from the hatred and bloodshed of a mighty war, has devoured the entire spiritual world. The bird gods of the Isle of the Dead: the vicious Crow, scholarly Cormorant, matronly Pelican, and swashbuckling Frigate, have thus far prevented it from swallowing the material world as well by feeding it soporific conaria. The Alehouse at the End of the World is a lyrical, lovable novel but the pace is a lot slower than what I’m used to. That was a challenge for me although it was ultimately outweighed by the many aspects I loved about this novel. To avoid any risk of spoilers, I’m going to list these elements with as little context as possible: Sex that is as saucy as you’d expect with a fertility goddess involved, yet never veers close to being pornographic. This includes an absence of fantasy bodies and fantasy lust in the mixed group of bird gods, fertility goddess, and people engaging in it. It got a bit much for me at times but works in general. While this is the fisherman’s tale for the most part, he’s not the only hero in this story. One could even argue that he’s the least of the heroes in this novel. Nor are the true heroes the ones you see coming. There is a literal alehouse at the end of the world. It’s dark and rather brutal at times. The Crow is a spiteful, cunning, narcissist of the most dangerous variety. The ouroborous was a very nice touch. Altogether, The Alehouse at the End of the World is a satisfying, leisurely read with interesting rhythms and invented words to satisfy literary fiction fans as well as solid mythological concepts for fantasy fans. Book provided by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rouyuan

    Although wildly inventive and unique, enjoyment is not a term I'd associate with this book. I like weird books, I like crazy ideas, I like things that diverge as far as possible from the norm with unabashed confidence—but this book was somehow still a struggle for me despite how open I was to it. To start with the good, Stevan Allred is a tremendously skilled writer when it comes to his prose. The writing is pinpoint precise, and he has an obvious knack for words, producing a style I did like re Although wildly inventive and unique, enjoyment is not a term I'd associate with this book. I like weird books, I like crazy ideas, I like things that diverge as far as possible from the norm with unabashed confidence—but this book was somehow still a struggle for me despite how open I was to it. To start with the good, Stevan Allred is a tremendously skilled writer when it comes to his prose. The writing is pinpoint precise, and he has an obvious knack for words, producing a style I did like reading—clear and concise, without being simple or generic or filtered down to cater to the lowest common denominator. Along with that, he fused together some unique ideas in this book, and I did particularly appreciate the addition of South East Asian myths and legends. However, the other aspects of the book failed to deliver. The book had a grand, mythic atmosphere to it, but the bawdy humour injected throughout felt tonally dissonant. Although the description promised humour, every instance of it fell flat for me. The plot didn't quite grasp my attention, and the characters were severely lacking. As another reviewer mentioned, the way the female characters were handled in this book was off-putting. The overly frequent descriptions of their breasts and other physical attributes, the strangely sexual narration of even entirely banal activities—it all came together to make for a slightly uncomfortable read. And I'm not gonna lie, the whole woman/bird sex bits just weren't my thing (yes, yes, she's a winged goddess, so she's kind of half-bird in a way, but that doesn't change the fact her body is still mostly humanoid. The book lovingly describes it in detail, after all, with extensive consideration of her apparently fantastic chest). If you want something entirely new and odd and creative, try this book. If you want something that's not typically found in the fantasy genre of late, give this a shot. It's not a bad book, it just wasn't for me. But if characters with depth and an engaging narrative are requirements for you, I wouldn't recommend this.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    My thanks to Forest Avenue Press for an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A fisherman receives a letter telling of the death of his lost love and then travels Orpheus-like to the Isle of the Dead to find her. There he encounters a group of avian shape-shifting demigods and a fertility goddess. Adventures follow, including a fair few erotic encounters. There’s also an adversary in the form of a crow, a petty tyrant living up to the crow’s archetypical role of trickster. While I lo My thanks to Forest Avenue Press for an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A fisherman receives a letter telling of the death of his lost love and then travels Orpheus-like to the Isle of the Dead to find her. There he encounters a group of avian shape-shifting demigods and a fertility goddess. Adventures follow, including a fair few erotic encounters. There’s also an adversary in the form of a crow, a petty tyrant living up to the crow’s archetypical role of trickster. While I loved the concept I have to admit that I struggled for a time to engage with the narrative, though this improved as I continued and became more invested in the characters. I appreciated that Allred was creating a fable or myth-like story combining strands from Eastern and Western traditions with original ideas. Given its structure and the rich descriptions I feel it would have worked better for me as an audiobook. Brought to mind sitting around a (metaphoric) campfire while a storyteller weaves this strange tale. The cover and illustrations are stunning and there is a rather hallucinatory feel to the story. Early on the delightful frigate bird (my favourite among the bird characters) offers the fisherman some hashish and I felt that summed up the ambiance of the story. Weird, witty and certainly bawdy. I feel it’s the type of novel that will polarise readers. I tried to weigh up what appealed to me against times I just felt disconnected, so decided on 3 stars. I would suggest potential readers sample it to see if the style is a good fit for them.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

    I thought this was an interesting take on the Shakespearean comedy. Readers who are unfamiliar with the difference between a Shakespearean comedy and a modern comedy should know that this book is not going to be funny in the way you’re looking for. Shakespearean comedies pertain more to struggling lovers, love triangles, deception, and reunification. They are light hearted but not necessarily funny. This book has all of the above in spades and I found it highly entertaining. I also enjoyed the w I thought this was an interesting take on the Shakespearean comedy. Readers who are unfamiliar with the difference between a Shakespearean comedy and a modern comedy should know that this book is not going to be funny in the way you’re looking for. Shakespearean comedies pertain more to struggling lovers, love triangles, deception, and reunification. They are light hearted but not necessarily funny. This book has all of the above in spades and I found it highly entertaining. I also enjoyed the way the author portrayed the afterlife. I’m not going to discuss details so as not to spoil anything but I haven’t seen life after death quite like this before. I’m always interested in new takes on old tropes, there are so many books and movies out there today that are just remakes of an older work or ideas that have already been done to death it’s refreshing to read something that feels new and different. I will say that it took me a little while to get into the book. I picked it up and put it down a couple of times. The beginning sort of dragged on a little for me. Once you get to the second book things get much more interesting and I found it to be an enjoyable read from there. I will say that there are some sexually explicit scenes so be forewarned if that makes you uncomfortable this may not be the book for you.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chelz Lor

    **A thank you to Net Galley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review** For a full review that goes into detail about why I find sex with bird men super weird you can go to my website ChelzLor.com The writing is top notch and is the reason for those two precious stars on this review. The author is a master word caster and I hope to find something of his I can read without cringing someday. This was not the day. The story is mostly sex with bird men and women intermixed with a supposed t **A thank you to Net Galley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review** For a full review that goes into detail about why I find sex with bird men super weird you can go to my website ChelzLor.com The writing is top notch and is the reason for those two precious stars on this review. The author is a master word caster and I hope to find something of his I can read without cringing someday. This was not the day. The story is mostly sex with bird men and women intermixed with a supposed true love, adultery, misogyny, sexism, and domestic abuse. Again, more detail in my full review. I wouldn't say I am a fan of this particular story, but I can see myself enjoying this author in another context.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    On paper I felt I should have loved this book. Unfortunately, it didn’t come together for me. Steven Allred is an excellent writer and there are some incredibly creative, as well as original, ideas in this novel. The story has a very mythological feel which is something I ordinarily love, but there was a huge disconnect between the tone of the story and the coarse humour that ran throughout. The characters also fell a bit flat to say the least, particularly of the female ones. I do think others On paper I felt I should have loved this book. Unfortunately, it didn’t come together for me. Steven Allred is an excellent writer and there are some incredibly creative, as well as original, ideas in this novel. The story has a very mythological feel which is something I ordinarily love, but there was a huge disconnect between the tone of the story and the coarse humour that ran throughout. The characters also fell a bit flat to say the least, particularly of the female ones. I do think others may get a lot out of it. Just not for me. This was an ARC in exchange for an honest review. With thanks to Netgalley and Forest Avenue Press

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jason Arias

    Stevan Allred's The Alehouse at the End of the World is a book wrapped in mythology, drunken with humanity, tarred in the same tinctures that simultaneously hold us together and tear us apart, and thoroughly feathered throughout. There's enough cultural head nods and eye winks and cleverness to keep Literary Master's classes discussing the between-the-lines for semesters on end. The amount of whimsy and wit keeps the narrative buoyant with chuckles, while the pure humanity of the characters (mos Stevan Allred's The Alehouse at the End of the World is a book wrapped in mythology, drunken with humanity, tarred in the same tinctures that simultaneously hold us together and tear us apart, and thoroughly feathered throughout. There's enough cultural head nods and eye winks and cleverness to keep Literary Master's classes discussing the between-the-lines for semesters on end. The amount of whimsy and wit keeps the narrative buoyant with chuckles, while the pure humanity of the characters (most not even human) slowly unfolds to land in a place that is ultimately grounding and deeply visceral.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joe Jones

    This is one of those hard to review books especially because we don't have an option for half stars. I do enjoy off the wall books and this definitely qualifies. We also get the classic tale of the lengths one will go to for the love of their life. Then we get the not so great things. It does go on a bit longer than it needed for me. Lastly are the somewhat creepy sex scenes which will limit who I would recommend this too. It definitely will leave an impression on you after you finish!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jonah Barrett

    Alehouse is a fable that charms the reader within the first few pages, encountering a host of bastardly birds along an empty underworld that happens to be a beach. The book spoke to the Pacific Northwest gothic lover within me. I’ll never look at birds the same way again.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I can’t believe I spent so much time with this one.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kate Sherrod

    A very unusual and imaginative, if occasionally frustrating, read. Full review soon at Skiffhny & Fanty.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    Received ARC from Netgalley for honest read and review. I could not get into this one,I did not really feel any of the characters,and I tried really hard to keep going,but I did not really like it

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Currie

    story line has o good premise but it reads like the Edda or native American story telling, a style that I have not been able to get into.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Annarella

    There's a lot of world building and creativity in this book even if it sometimes fails to deliver. i loved the concept, the characters and it was like travelling in a fantastic surrealistic world. It was fun to read and entertaining. Recommended! Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    ‘We are all of us but parts of a pattern not of our own making.’ Stevan Allred’s new book promises much, but does it deliver? This is the story of an unnamed fisherman who learns of his wife’s death and sets off to the Isle of the Dead to find her soul and bring her home. Here be shape-shifting bird deities, a usurping Crow who acts as despot, and as the tale develops we are bombarded by any amount of myths and allusions which direct the action. Eastern and Western mythologies combine: we have a ‘We are all of us but parts of a pattern not of our own making.’ Stevan Allred’s new book promises much, but does it deliver? This is the story of an unnamed fisherman who learns of his wife’s death and sets off to the Isle of the Dead to find her soul and bring her home. Here be shape-shifting bird deities, a usurping Crow who acts as despot, and as the tale develops we are bombarded by any amount of myths and allusions which direct the action. Eastern and Western mythologies combine: we have a ‘pilgrim’ descending into an underworld, tales of creation, goddesses, Edenic existence and a ‘fall’, a war to rival Milton’s War in Heaven or Tolkien’s great battle scenes… Into all of this mix Allred throws humorous footnotes and bawdy – even explicit – sexual encounters. Does it all work? I’m so far out of my comfort zone with a book like this – it is not what I usually read, but isn’t it good to try something different? If you like fantasy novels I can see this appealing to you – although some reviews I have read said people were expecting a world like Terry Pratchett’s but were disappointed. There are plenty of references to other literatures and philosophies that it can be quite rewarding to recognise some as they come along. But, as a whole, I was left wondering if it all amounted to more or less of the sum of the parts and, to be honest, I thought it was OK, but just OK. I didn’t care enough for the central characters of the fisherman and his wife, and while it could be read as a novel reflecting some issues of our turbulent times I felt that the author perhaps tried too hard to throw everything but the kitchen sink to make his point. I’m glad I read it, and I would encourage others to do so, but I can only rate it 3 stars I think, given my reservations. (With thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for an ARC in return for an honest and unbiased review.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Luisa Barbano

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sibil

    DNF at 25% Thanks to NetGalley and to the editor. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review Sadly, this book was not for me. It's not that it's bad, at all. The writing is something special and it's all like a fairytale. But it's also a little bit too... dreamlike, atmosphere-speaking, and it's just not my cup of tea. And I couldn't care for the story. I've tried but I wasn't invested in it, even if, as far as I have read, it was quite original and interesting. But it just wa DNF at 25% Thanks to NetGalley and to the editor. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review Sadly, this book was not for me. It's not that it's bad, at all. The writing is something special and it's all like a fairytale. But it's also a little bit too... dreamlike, atmosphere-speaking, and it's just not my cup of tea. And I couldn't care for the story. I've tried but I wasn't invested in it, even if, as far as I have read, it was quite original and interesting. But it just wasn't for me. Maybe it would come a better time for it, or maybe not.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amy Spencer

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    I wanted to like this book. It's elegantly written and has some very interesting ideas about the nature of self and life and death, and makes use of historically-relevant metaphorical figures. But it is dull, and it is repetitive, and all of the elegance and metaphor in the world can't help it move along a little faster and in a way that makes any of the characters seem anything but cardboard.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Cypher

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nadine

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jan

  31. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  32. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  33. 4 out of 5

    Paula

  34. 5 out of 5

    Shannon B

  35. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Sagar

  36. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  37. 5 out of 5

    Rei

  38. 4 out of 5

    Alice E

  39. 4 out of 5

    Lynie

  40. 4 out of 5

    Martha

  41. 5 out of 5

    Linda

  42. 4 out of 5

    Amandine

  43. 4 out of 5

    Carol

  44. 5 out of 5

    Ethan Wing

  45. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  46. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

  47. 5 out of 5

    Jill Zahm

  48. 5 out of 5

    Amber

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