A very self-conscious re-telling of a Greek play, the outcome is already
known, and there are really no surprises, which is in itself a surprise because
the book describes a universe of mythical monsters (some kept as pets) and
magical spells; against that backdrop the characters exhibit signs of
atheisticism though being unable to suspend entirely their morbid fears of the
There are loads of voices crop up: the author gives a chapter to himself, the
fictitous author shows up first as a ghost, then as a real character (in the
modern world), then as the voice of his dreams; these are confounded by the
narrative voice and the voices of the main characters themselves add to the
noise. None of the voices give much description of the surroundings, or of the
emotions and feelings of the characters; the book is almost entirely
descriptions of people's actions, or their sayings. Like a Hollywood movie, the
book does not hesitate to make a chronological jump whenever it is convenient.
It turns out that the whole thing is a dream of a man on death row hours from
being executed. I seriously doubt he would have been able to sleep at all
myself, but supposing he did, it makes for one of those stories which I hate
that can basically turn anyway it wants at any moment. It also explains
something of the nature of the work, but in the final analysis just having
someone wake up from a dream spoils it for me.
After having thought retrospectively about the book (mostly for the purpose
of writing this review), things do actually make a lot of sense, and it does
after all come across as a pretty intelligent book. Bottom line is it is not a
subject matter which really interests me and the writing is not very absorbing.