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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Scottish author Hal Duncan's debut novel -- a truly singular blend of dark fantasy, religious myth, and hard-core existentialism -- is like a 100,000-piece puzzle depicting a Jackson Pollock painting. Brilliantly complex, thematically abstract, and at times frustratingly difficult to follow, this epic saga about the age-old war between good and evil encompasses everything from Greek and Sumerian mythology to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard to the Spanish Civil War!
The Book of All Hours is a legendary tome, supposedly commissioned by God, that contains the grand design of all realities past, present, and future. Enter Reynard Carter, member of a family rumored to have been guardians of the book -- a family with "not just skeletons in the closet, but skeletons with bones engraved with mystic runes, in closets with false walls that hid dark tunnels leading deep, deep underground." As Reynard (and a handful of other time- and space-hopping characters) traverse the otherworlds of the Vellum wandering through myth and legend, their journeys are just a small part of a much larger, more significant conflict…
Fantasy fans looking for some mindless escapism should definitely look elsewhere; Duncan's Vellum is one of those rare works of speculative fiction that will intellectually challenge and provoke from the first page to the last. Like other demanding and sophisticated literary works -- Stepan Chapman's The Troika, Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, to name a few -- the sublime experience of Duncan's highly intelligent and genre-transcendent first novel will resonate in readers' collective subconscious for a long time after the last page is turned. A virtuoso debut. Paul Goat Allen