A Quick Review In Disguise: Emberton by Peter Norman

Author: Peter Norman
Title: Emberton
Format/Source: Paperback/library 
Published: March 2014
Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
Length: 295 pages
Genre:Um, some sort of literary (see below)
Why I Read: Reviewed in local paper; “comic gothic thriller for lovers of books and language”!!
Read If You’re: Looking for a strange mystery, interested in the power of language
Rating:  ★★★★ [ratings guide]
Links: GoodReadsIndieBound Chapters | Book Depository 
I finished this book just before I left for Japan (end of July). I started to outline a review because I really enjoyed this book and I think it could use a signal boost, but I ran out of time!Although this looks like a full review, it’s really just a bits and pieces one…I had all the formatting done before I left Japan, though, so I’ve left it in 😛

I loved the noir atmosphere of this book, even if it got a bit twisted towards the end (see next paragraph). I loved the mystery of an old school dictionary company going out of their way to hire an illiterate man. What’s the catch?! I enjoyed the writing style and wish I had a copy of the book still so I could post a quote or two. I think this is a good debut novel and I will be intrigued by what Norman publishes next.

The ending of the book felt a bit slow and drawn out. I did like the strangeness of it all, but it gave me a weird feeling. It unsettled me? It was an odd feeling, one I haven’t really encountered while reading. I like the idea of how everything played out, but it was definitely a bit odd and maybe even creepy for me. The last forty or fifty pages took a shift in mood that made me feel off. The unique mix of mystery, language, humour and horror really comes to a head in the book’s ending. Ack, hard to describe…

I really liked Lance (the main character) as a person. I don’t usually think that about characters – how  much I like or dislike them – but with Lance, I did think “Wow, he is a really likeable character!” I would like to be friends with Lance. I thought Norman portrayed Lance’s illiteracy very well, in a manner that broke my heart to realize what being illiterate means for many people. Some of the other characters are less interesting (Elena failed to really capture my interest) but I think Lance makes up for that.

The Bottom Line: If you love reading or language and have an interest in something a little strange, give this book a go.

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