Publish Date: 22 September 2020
Page Count: 409 pages
Today I’m helping launch the SOT blog tour for The Boy Who Walked Too Far by Dom Watson, and I’m so excited! I was determined to join after reading Arina’s fantastic review, and a guest post by the author which featured an enticing description of Testament, his surreal and genre-defying setting:
“I wanted to go the other way – to the end of time, where magic, science and faith have fell in love with each other and the idea of an orgy is as normal to someone as a walk in the park. There is no room for taboo at the end of everything.”
This concept made me intensely curious and excited to have a unique reading experience, which is exactly what I got.
The city of Testament is the final crumb of reality waiting to be swept up by entropy. It exists outside space, across the boundaries of science and magic, and beyond the squishy limits of my mind. Testament is home to a multitude of beings; gods, angels, humans and talking rocks amongst others, who resignedly await oblivion.
“Even at the end of time, the world is still full of cunts.”
Amid the chaos, the Auditors seek to reduce reality to mathematics, assimilating the unique number of every soul, living or dead, into their great equation. So, when the soul of a man is unaccounted for and presumed destroyed, master dreamalurgist Heironymous Xindii and his Neanderthal confidante are recruited by the Pope of Numbers to investigate the anomaly.
I usually take notes for my reviews as I read, but this time I have absolutely nothing other than a very earnest ‘WTF?’
It’s a pretty apt statement, I think, so that’s how I’ll start my review proper.
The Boy Who Walked Too Far is a ride through a world unexpected and incredibly alien. I love books that push boundaries and transcend familiar genre formulas; popular authors like China Mieville, Will Self and Hannu Rajaniemi come to mind. Reading one of their books is like being told to sit down, shut up and listen to their tales of weirdness. Watson, however, is more likely to kick you in the shins, sit on your chest and gleefully read you his story about the end of everything while you’re still seeing stars.
Acting as a familiar narrative anchor amid the chaos, the story progresses with the ongoing detective investigation of Godrich’s missing soul, and the chapters alternate between this detecting and Xindii’s dark past.
Character-wise, Xindii and his friend Doomfinger are both charming and fascinating, while the stoic, chain-smoking Brick provides an interesting counterpoint to their easy friendship. Beyond that, you can expect just about anything and everything from Watson’s otherworldly ensemble.
After reading the author’s description of his open-minded setting, I was a little surprised that most female characters were victims of misogyny. But, to be fair, this is one of many problems with Testament, which is less the motley utopia I was expecting, and more the depraved death throes of life itself.
The Boy Who Walked Too Far isn’t a book for the faint of heart, and perhaps not for the casual reader. It is brutal at times, featuring all the body horror you could (and couldn’t) imagine. Its certainly a story like no other and an entirely memorable experience, so I’m excited to see what happens next in The Xindii Chronicles.
Make sure you check out the tour schedule to see what other bloggers thought of this one-of-a-kind book!
Many thanks to Dom Watson and Storytellers on Tour for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger warnings: drug use, addiction, rape, incest, miscarriage
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