I received this book for free from Publicist in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet
Published by David Fickling Books on November 6th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Award-winning author Philip Murdstone is in trouble. His star has waned. The world is leaving him behind. His agent, the beautiful and ruthless Minerva Cinch, convinces him that his only hope is to write a sword-and-sorcery blockbuster. Unfortunately, Philip - allergic to the faintest trace of Tolkien - is utterly unsuited to the task. In a dark hour, a dwarfish stranger comes to his rescue. But the deal he makes with Pocket Wellfair turns out to have Faustian consequences.
The Murdstone Trilogy is a richly black comedy from an author described by one American critic as 'the best writer you've probably never heard of'.
Review: I was very intrigued by the concept of The Murdstone Trilogy and Mal Peet is an author I’ve been meaning to read for a while so was really excited when I was offered the chance to review Peet’s latest novel, especially as the main character is a YA author and it looked very original.
Peet’s narrator, Philip Murdstone is being forced by his agent to write a fantasy novel and fit in with the latest trends. Murdstone who writes about sensitive boys with problems is unsure where to start and at the beginning very dismissive about fantasy. This did concern me at the start a little as I worried the book would be ‘antigenre’, however as the plot progressed Murdstone’s reticence recedes. There is a really great darkly comic and cynical tone to this book and a lot of humour. In many ways it’s quite satirical and harsh on the publishing industry and I found this very interesting to read. I’d recently completed J K Rowling’s The Silkworm which also contains an interesting look at the publishing industry and the two complemented each other in some ways.
The Murdstone Trilogy really comes into its own once Murdstone meets Pocket and begins writing his book. There is a fabulous faustian edge to the plot as the fantastical and real collide. I also liked how the amulet functioned in the novel and seemed like a thinly veiled reference to the one ring in Lord of the Rings.
While the novel was engaging and enjoyable overall, I felt the ending chapters didn’t draw me in quite so easily – however, I did love the section in Tibet and messages about literary interpretation. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the agent’s narration when first introduced either, however it did work and by the end felt seamless.
The Murdstone Trilogy is one of those books that doesn’t really fit into one category, it floats delightfully in between, though I would say that for me I felt it was more skewed towards the older end of YA/crossover due to the more mature narrator and occasional inexplicit sexual content. That said, I think those interesting in the process of writing would find a lot to enjoy. Peet’s prose is wonderful and fantasy fans, those with an interest in writing or publishing should find a lot to think about in this book.