Brenda is back! It’s the 1930s, and Brenda (of Brenda and Effie fame!) finds herself in the old, medieval university town of Darkholmes in the North of England. She’s a housemaid, and teams up with fictionalised versions of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, who are conjuring up monsters from other dimensions through their writings. Together, they battle demons and solve strange mysteries.
I’ve been in something of a reading slump these past two weeks and, as a result, it has taken me a rather long time to read this novel comprised of a mere 312 pages.
As is the case with most books, it was the cover of Fellowship of Ink that reeled me in initially. The rainbow colours, the sparkles, the dramatic tag line, the endorsement…combined, they promised a fun-filled, fantastical adventure, all from the comfort of my chair.
Now, I’m going to be honest, I have mixed feelings about this book and after some investigation (a rich term for having a quick Google), I discovered that Fellowship of Ink is a prequel to another series that features Brenda, the Tylers’ housemaid. I’m not sure if the fact that I haven’t read these other books has had an effect upon my enjoyment of this book, but I just found I couldn’t really immerse myself in the story.
Sure, there is a wide array of colourful characters populating this book and the way in which these characters interact with one another is fantastic. The dialogue between them is witty and fast paced and makes for some amusing scenes, particularly those involving Henry Cleavis. Each of the characters is well-rounded and unique and unlike any character I have ever come across elsewhere in fiction. They’re what make this novel so fresh and innovative.
I like the idea behind Fellowship of Ink; the idea that writing can wear thin the walls between the realms. I mean, who hasn’t, at one point or another, wanted to enter an alternate or fictional universe? I think that idea alone speaks to a small spark of hope residing within all of us.
However (god, how I hate that word sometimes), while the story is fast paced and exciting in places, I found it quite difficult to follow. As I said, perhaps this is simply because it’s a fictional universe that I’m unfamiliar with and I realised that this might be the case when I didn’t understand the ending of the book. I felt like I was missing something crucial and I think it might have been because I haven’t read Brenda’s series. If it’s a prequel, though, should a reader be left feeling like this? I don’t know, this is a situation I’ve never faced before as a book blogger.
Furthermore, from an editorial perspective, there are so many errors within Fellowship of Ink. There are multiple typos scattered among the pages, characters become other characters on more than one occasion and Brenda is referred to as ‘Bessie’ twice on page 300. As a writer, I understand editing is difficult but this is a book published by a professional publishing house. Books (I assume anyway) are supposed to be subjected to proofreading and multiple edits before being published. Truth be told, I’ve never read a book with so many errors and it really pulled me out of the story every time I encountered one.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Song: Iron Maiden’s Stranger in a Strange Land
This book is available on Amazon in e-book and paperback format.