Extreme gushing is about to begin. If allergic to gush, step away from this blog post right now or deploy precautionary measures.
Right, well now that’s out of the way, I can begin. If you’ve had a peek at this blog before, you may have noticed I’m a prolific and enthusiastic reader (and re-reader) of all things fantasy, with the odd foray into science fictiony type stuff. In a nutshell, I read a lot. I don’t mention more than a fraction of it here, because otherwise you’d all be exhausted. And in need of chocolate. And I’m a bit stingy about handing out my chocolate rations willy-nilly.
I’m easily pleased and happily charmed, so it’s not too hard to get on my five-star side when it comes to books. But every now and then I read something that knocks my flip-flops off in a big way and makes me want to stand at street corners and shout to the masses. Tom Pollock’s Skyscraper Throne series was one of these.
Tom had been on my to-read list for a while, so when I won a book – any book – in a flash fiction competition I asked for The City’s Son. By the end of the first page I was smitten. By the time I was halfway through I had ordered the second and third in the trilogy. Tom’s work is a headlong, gritty rush through London’s urban tangle, a world where scaffolding wolves, mirror people, and streetlight denizens dance and battle with the pavement-skinned son of the city’s goddess, and the graffiti artist he sweeps along in his wake.
As artist and school troublemaker Beth Bradley becomes more and more besotted with the hidden London she’s introduced to by goddess Mater Viae’s son, Filius, she’s drawn into the thick of his war against the Demolition God, Reach. Her gradual descent into Fil’s world and her absorption by the city closely mirrored my own experience as a reader, sinking deeper and deeper until I neither could nor wanted to get out.
The second book, The Glass Republic, once again surprises and enchants by pulling us through the looking glass into a different and distorted London, London-Under-Glass. Here, reflections are alive and rule by a bizarre assortment of regulations which at first make no sense at all to Beth’s best friend, poet Pavra ‘Pen’ Khan. Soon Pen finds herself in the thick of a bitterly cruel struggle, a fight that may already have claimed the mirror-sister she has journeyed to find.
In the trilogy’s conclusion, Our Lady of the Streets, we return to the London of the first book, but Tom yet again twists the tale brilliantly and serves us an utterly new city, one which contorts and warps and morphs until it is an unrecognizable warzone. Because Mater Viae has returned from London-Under-Glass and she is not a happy camper. Beth, Pen, and all their allies dig to the very depths of their ingenuity and endurance as they attempt to stop her from spreading her sick dominium far beyond London’s borders.
Why did I love this series so much? Perhaps for the freshness, and the strange menagerie of wild and wonderful urban creatures Tom serves us up. Perhaps for the characters, stubborn and proud, and fiercely devoted to each other and the causes they believe in. Or maybe because I have a sneaking suspicion that London will have changed so much since I last lived there, in the early 90’s, that it would be a whole London-Under-Glass if I visited now.
One thing I am sure of: The Skyscraper Throne is a trilogy well worth reading, and I for one will be keeping a sharp eye out for whatever Tom brings us in the future.
Look at these beauties… Love the covers!