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Under the Harrow

July 28, 2016

Under the Harrow coverBy Mark Dunn

Published 2010, 590 pages

Synopsis: In a hidden valley cordoned off from the rest of the world, a civilization exists in a permanent Victorian stance, even though the year is 2003. Their ancestors were told that the “Outland” was a disease-ridden wasteland from which no one who ventures ever returns. Their society was begun by a group of orphaned children who had the Bible, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and the entire works of Charles Dickens as their only source of writing. From this limited information, they build their community. Over time, the civilization becomes divided into an unfair, sometimes cruel caste system. But soon, some of the citizens begin to piece together the puzzle of what the outside world is really like and why the orphans were abandoned there in the first place.

Review: I was looking forward to this book because I loved everything I ever read by Mark Dunn. And I thought I would love that the isolated valley remained a Dickensian society; but I have to say, I found it to be difficult to read at times. The narrator seemed to take many words to get to the heart of what he was saying; largely due to the fact that he only speaks and writes in Dickensian prose. At some point in the book I realized that maybe I don’t like Dickens that much.  I’m a fan of brevity; I like when authors get to the point. I felt like this story could have been told a lot quicker. That being said, the story itself is excellent. There is a lot of suspense and it is cool to think of an isolated place that is still very much the same as Victorian England. Kind of like Colonial Williamsburg without the tourists. I like the premise and the way the plot developed. Overall, for me, it just dragged a bit too much.

Rating: 3 boots

Recommendation: Oddly enough, given the synopsis, I would recommend this book to someone like me–someone who enjoys reading Victorian-style dramas combined with a suspenseful thriller. All you need is a bit more patience than I have. This is clearly and adult novel, though, as there is a lot of violence.

From → Book Treks

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