Published: July 23, 2019
Pages: 464 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The ultimate book-lover’s fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world, for fans of The Magicians, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and The Invisible Library.
For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.
There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.
Ever since learning of this book I had been looking forward to reading it. How could I resist a synopsis that described a man that could bring anything from a book simply by reading it intently. I’m fairly certain that’s the kind of magic any book lover would want to have at their disposal.
The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is the story of two brothers – Rob Sutherland, who is an utterly normal lawyer living in Wellington, New Zealand and Charley, who is quite abnormal and can read characters right out of books, causing much trouble. Rob and Charley have a strained relationship for a number of reasons, merely one of which being that Charley is bringing his unintended mischief to what Rob considers “his city”. Of course, nothing is quite so simple as that and it soon becomes apparent that Charley isn’t the only one with his singular talent and this person is much less benign. They are, in fact, trying to bring about a new world. One that is reminiscent of the streets of Victorian London with all the perils and evil thereof.
This book was fascinating and kept me going during a rather dull week away for work training. The whole concept was delightful without being a gentle fairytale since not only the nice, heroic characters could be brought forth from their resident pages. The more maniacal reader was bringing out the villainous Dickens era characters to stalk the streets of Wellington and it did bring a certain flair of danger to things. I mean, Charley and Rob nearly got mauled by the Hound of the Baskervilles in all its theatrical and terrifying glory.
Aside from having an interesting plot I thought that the exploration of the strained relationship between Charley and Rob was really well done. Charley has always been a prodigy and despite Rob being older, he felt he was in his younger brother’s shadow and that resentment had carried over into their adult lives. Charley had moved away to Cambridge to get his Ph.D and Rob finally had a life to himself without worrying about caring for his brother or keeping his abilities hidden by cleaning up the occasional slip. They both have a good deal of emotional growth during the course of the story and it felt quite natural. As a matter of fact, their entire family must do some talking and share some secrets.
The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep was a fascinating book and I have to say, I don’t think I’ve read any other fantasy books set in New Zealand which is a shame! I had such a great time reading this book that I’ll more than likely pick up anything else that H.G. Parry publishes in the future. This book is also a standalone, which itself is rare in the fantasy world today. No fear of committing to a six book series here – just read one and your done!