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What We're Reading:
JeroenW, ABC The Hague staff, September 2020.
God lies defeated, his corpse hidden in the catacombs beneath Mordew. On the surface, the streets of this the sea-battered city are slick with the Living Mud and the half-formed, short-lived creatures it spawns - creatures that die and are swept down from the Merchant Quarter by the brooms of the workers and relentless rains, where they rot in the slums. There, a young boy called Nathan Treeves lives with his parents, eking out a meagre existence by picking treasures from the Living Mud - until one day his mother, desperate and starving, sells him to the mysterious Master of Mordew. The Master derives his power from feeding on the corpse of God. But Nathan, despite his fear and lowly station, has his own strength - and it is greater than the Master has ever known. Great enough to destroy everything the Master has built. If only Nathan can discover how to use it. So it is that the Master begins to scheme against him - and Nathan has to fight his way through the betrayals, secrets, and vendettas of the city where God was murdered, and darkness reigns... Welcome to Mordew - the first in a fantastic new trilogy from the Wellcome Book Prize-shortlisted writer, Alex Pheby.
Adam Roberts in The Guardian: "I'm one of the judges for the 2020 World Fantasy award and over the last few months I've read literally hundreds of fantasy titles, some good, some bad, most mediocre. I might easily have groaned at yet another entry into this overcrowded mode. But Mordew is a darkly brilliant novel, extraordinary, absorbing and dream-haunting. That it succeeds as well as it does speaks to Pheby's determination not to passively inhabit his Gormenghastly idiom but instead to lead it to its most extreme iteration, to force inventiveness and grotesqueness into every crevice of his work. It seems that one way to take an apparently exhausted idiom and make it new is just to push through, with enough imaginative energy to refresh the tired old tropes. Mordew is so crammed with grotesque inventiveness that it overwhelms the reader's resistance."