Cover Image: D (A Tale of Two Worlds)

D (A Tale of Two Worlds)

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Very unusual tale, especially coming from the author of Under the Skin, with a brilliant viewpoint character. Strong elements of Dickens and Lewis in this fable filled with a cast of fabulous characters investigating the disappearance from our world of the letter D. 
This is definitely aimed at a younger audience but like all great children’s literature can be enjoyed equally so by adults,  tackling many modern concerns such as global warming and racism. It’s an extremely funny tale too and I found myself chuckling as a read. This tale is well worth your time no matter what age you are. 
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for the early copy.
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This is a lovely, quirky little story, very much in the same mould as the Nania stories or Alice in Wonderland.  Extremely imaginative with a gorgeous little main character.  Sweet fun for middle graders and the young at heart.
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I didn't realise this was a novel aimed at young adults until I read an interview with Michel Faber in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago just after I had finished reading it - it's strange that the publisher didn't make this more obvious in the blurb/description on NetGalley. Knowing that this book is aimed at teenagers makes a lot more sense in hindsight, as I think the allegorical ideas in D (A Tale of Two Worlds) will appeal more to younger readers than to adult readers like myself who enjoyed Faber's previous work. That said, Faber is an author who is well known for experimenting with different genres so fans of his other novels will already know to expect something a bit different.

The plot focuses on Dhikilo, a young girl from Somaliland who lives with a foster family on the south coast of England and finds that the letter D is disappearing. With encouragement from her teacher Professor Dodderfield, she sets off on a quest to the wintry world of Liminus to recover the missing letters This novel also commemorates the 150th anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens and there are some nice nods to his work through various characters and names. Overall, I thought the first half was more compelling than the second half where I lost interest a bit in the fantasy elements.
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D (a tale of two worlds) by Michael Faber,  is a Narnia-esque tale about a girl named Dhikilo and a quest to rescue the letter D, which is mysteriously going missing. It is to be published on September 17th and I highly recommend you get it and read it.
This is a magical story that reminded me of the chronicles of Narnia. The characters are vivid and likeable and the world feels very real. I was drawn into Dhikilo's storyboard cant wait to find out what she gets up to next. 5 stars, highly recommended.
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A quirky story about a young girl, Dhikilo, and her adventures into the fantasy world of Liminus.  Her mission is to discover why the letter D is disappearing and to put a stop to it.  I had originally assumed this was an adult book but it soon became clear that it was better suited to children.  The promise of the early chapters soon gave way to an unsophisticated episodic tale.  Any potential for an involved story soon evaporated.  The characters lacked depth and there was very little in the way of plot.  Sadly disappointing.
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If Crimson Petal was a modernist love letter to Dickens, it's clear that D (while still full of references to dear Charles) is a child of Carroll, and Lewis, and Baum. I had the feeling I was reading a classic, a book parents can read out loud to their children before bed and make it into a family event.

Dhikilo was a wonderful heroine - clever, resourceful, but above all kind. I felt safe looking at the world through her eyes, and I wish we'd gotten to know her a bit more. In fact, I suppose my only issue with this book is that it was too short! There were many questions left unanswered, and some plot points felt too quickly resolved (at its climax, the novel deflates and suddenly everything is resolved with close to no intervention from our heroes. That was a bit of a disappointment and the whole novel's tension suffers from it. How did the Gamp steal /our/ Ds and what was the Dynamo for? Who controlled the weather? How was it so easy to take him and, more importantly, the Magwitches down? How did Dhikilo have the power to bring the sun back? Was her father from Liminus? And why was the Professor stuck in his home with a death sentence on his head?) - it made me wish this was just the beginning of a long, Narnia-like saga exploring Liminus, its history, and what role Dhikilo and the Professor play in it.

That said, I actually very much enjoyed this reading experience - I was thoroughly entertained and I could see a child absolutely adore it. It was an allegorical tale - climate change, racism, intolerance, industrialism. And honestly? I found myself laughing out loud MANY TIMES whenever the Gamp and his followers spoke! The similarities with Trump were uncanny, his State of The Union might've just been a direct quote. Turns out he didn't make Liminus Great Again!

All in all, it was funny, it was sweet, the world building was interesting, and I hope Michael Faber has, after all, a few more books inside him because I'd love to go back to this world.
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Michel Faber’s D (A Tale of Two Worlds) didn’t quite work for me, I’m sad to say. I loved the main character, Dhikilo, and Professor Dodderfield, and  the concept of the disappearing D’s. However, the narrative in the fantastical world felt a bit of a plod after a wonderful bit in a strange uninhabited hotel. The climax in the city was a bit of a damp squib and the journey home was a bit dull. I’m sure it will be adored by some, but I was disappointed.
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Absolutely phenomenal. A beautifully written fairy tale that reminded me so much of authors such as CS Lewis, Frank Baum and of course, Charles Dickens.
This was an utter joy to read, full of hope and joy. I loved Dhikilo so much, she was full of gumption and was one of the most delightful characters I've read in a long time. I have high hopes for this, and the fact that it is so gorgeous is a bonus, I have ordered myself a signed copy of the hardback.
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Weirly wonerful, wonerfully weir 

Dhikilo wakes one morning to find all the D's have gone missing & this is the tale of her adventure to get to the bottom of what's going on. A super quick, entertaining read where Narnia meets Oz in a chocolate factory. 

I didn't realise this was a middle-grade read when I requested this, I just liked the sound of it, my issue with it is that as a middle-grade read it's probably pretty difficult. As well as the D's going missing (which your brain gets used to pretty quickly) our heroine meets the 'roo' (Drood) who all have a speech impediment which is even more problematic to read. I think my early middle-grade reader would soon give up on this as, although entertaining, it would be hard work.

"No one will thank you for your brave achievement. That is the fate of many a courageous champion. The good that we do sinks into history like rainfall into the earth. The earth, being earth, cannot feel gratitude or award us with medals, but it can grow flowers, and that is our reward."
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I loved Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White. Loved it. From page One.
This is quite a departure from his style. A fairytale/fantasy/Blytony kind of book. 
Dhikilo, the foster child/heroine, originally from Somaliland (hello bandwagon, I hear you say), notices that the letter “D” is missing from everybody’s speech. She is tasked by her old former teacher Mr Dodderfield to bring the stolen “D”s back from the parallel world of Liminus. At her side is Dodderfield’s dog Mrs Robinson, who has a neat little secret of her own...and a sssspeech impediment.
To start with, this book annoyed me to the point of nearly giving up. The issapearing “ ”s make it slow and cumbersome to rea. Aitionally, uring Hikhilo’s aventure, she meets a loa of villagers with ifferent speech impeiments - you get the picture...For a proofreader’s eye, this is close to torture.
Many of the character and place names are purloined from or alluding to Dickens, e.g. Pumblechook, Drood, Quilp, Nell, Magwitch, Bleak House or indeed the title of the book. But they do not refer to Dickens’ characters; they are picked out as if Dickens were the author of a telephone directory which, to me, seems not a homage but disrespect.
Some ideas shine, like the “Hotel California” style hotel/mansion that tries to trap its guests inside its maze-like rooms (someone has read his Walter Moers!). Some non-sequiturs you will overlook cause they’re just too prettily executed. However, the likeness of the “Gampalonian Tower of Light” to the WTC reawakens disturbing images without serving a real purpose.
I waited and waited for “The Grand Reveal”, an explanation of who and why and how and whether this all was a parable for something real big. Alas, nothing. The End.
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One thing the writer is not short on is imagination. I am certainly not in the intended age range for this book, some thing I hadn't worked out when I requested the book. So when it became obvious that I was several decades too old for this charming little book, I did my best to try and imagine how delightful a young child might find it. I honestly think that a child with a good imagination and a love for some thing different would love this book, and as such I am going to give it 4 stars .
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The letter D has gone missing, and Dhikilo goes on an adventure into another world to find it. With many nods to Dickens, and C.S. Lewis, Michel Faber is a master storyteller in any genre. His inventiveness in character and structure make this book a joy to read.
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I'm really not sure quite how to explain my feelings on this one. D (A Tale of Two Worlds) follows the tale of Dhikilo, a young girl who is confused when the letter D suddenly disappears from the world and no one else starts to notice, this leads to a sequence of events that ends with her going on an adventure to another world in an attempt to recover the letter D.

I should state that when I requested this I had no idea it was a children's book, and so I really wasn't expecting what I ended up getting. I don't mind the occasional middle-grade book, and obviously it's what I read when I was a child, but it meant that I felt someone let down by this book as soon as it began, just because it wasn't quite what I was expecting. However I'll try to be as objective as possible as the actual book itself.

The book is clearly heavily inspired by classic children's fantasy fiction. The title is a nod to Dickens, and the author also states C.S Lewis (Narnia) and L. Frank Baum (Wizard of Oz) as his inspiration and that's not surprising. It had that same whimsical feel of those stories and the idea of stepping into another world is a classic of the genre. I did enjoy the whimsy of it all, but I worry I'm just a little too old for it to all seem magical to me. 

I think my main issue with this book is that it has little to set it apart from its middle-grade competitors, there was nothing about it that seemed new or exciting to me. That being said it is a solid novel, with all the components you like to see in a children's fantasy story - an adventure, an animal sidekick, some made-up words, stakes that seem high but you know what you're getting, a villain who's easy to hate. I think if this is something you like then you'll probably enjoy it, but I worry that if you read this genre a lot this one might not stand out to you.

I'm sure this will be enjoyed by its intended audience, sadly I just didn't realise that wasn't me.
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How could I not want to love something with such a beautiful cover. And I did, want to love it. There are lovely elements, the way Faber took some of Dickens's character names and made them onomatopoeia, creating new creatures and characters to reflect the sound and feeling of the word itself. I loved that the most. I enjoyed the omniscient, patriarchal narrator simply because he was so familiar from children's books gone by and his wry humour entertained me. The fairy-tale feeling overall was comforting and cleverly recreated for a contemporary audience but while I enjoyed this part, the construction of the story was a little too episodic for me which made the pace a little plodding and repetitive. I suspect that's because it's aimed at children who will only read a chapter or two at a time, or have them read to them.

The disappearing "D" (or should that be isappearing " "?) was a fun stylistic device but was only cursorily explained and having read utterly brilliant books ("Ella Minnow Pea" and "A Void") based on a similar premise was a little under-developed, as was the use of Dickens as a character. The book is marketed as a celebration of Dickens on the 150th anniversary of his death but apart from Professor Dodderfield and the reuse of character names, there was little that was Dickensian about the story.

I was also a little uncomfortable with Dhikilo's history and it's handling. Perhaps the intention was to get children reading/listening to discuss Dhikilo's circumstances to get a better understanding of what growing up can be like for someone from a refugee background. While I don't think that writers can write only about their own experience Faber writing about a young girl adopted from Somaliland during horrific conflict jarred with me on several occasions.

The audience is very difficult to identify. 7-10 would probably be enthralled love but while Dhikilo is 13 but the story is a little young for that age and older readers may want something with a bit more depth. Adults, particularly fans of Dickens, will enjoy the wordplay and nods to his work but will be  otherwise underwhelmed.
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D (A Tale of Two Worlds) was not what I was expecting. The tone is that of an indulgent omniscience narrator who has a personality but wouldn’t let that interfere with a good story that they are telling how they like. It came off as too childish for me, the fable-like telling over-stylised and making it impossible to care about the characters and what was happening to them. This book was not for me unfortunately.
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A young girl wakes up to a world where the letter “D” suddenly doesn’t exist! Her journey to find out why begins after attending the funeral of her former history professor and sends her on a quest into another world - a world ruled over by a mysterious dictator called the Gamp.

I was surprised to see Michel Faber putting out another novel seeing as he claimed that his previous one, 2014’s The Book of Strange New Things, would be his last ever. But, in the afterword, he says that he started this story 35 years ago so I guess he felt he couldn’t end his writing career without finally completing it (and publishing it, of course)?

He also mentions his influences for the story: Dickens, Lewis’ Narnia books, James Thurber’s The Wonderful O, and the Wonderland novels. Having read D, I would say the book has more in common with Roald Dahl, Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth and Walter Moers’ The 13 and a Half Lives of Captain Bluebear - and I would also say that D unfortunately isn’t half as good as any of them!

This is definitely a book for younger readers rather than Faber’s usual adult audience. The writing style, the child protagonist and the whimsical premise of the letter D disappearing put me in mind of Dahl’s The Witches, particularly the magical stuff that happened after the funeral. I liked most of the first act before Dhikilo, our main character, went into Liminus, the other world.

Almost everything in Liminus though was insufferably bad! The one exception was the episode in the Bleak House, a haunted hotel that tries to drive Dhikilo and her travelling companion, Mrs Robinson the shape-shifting sphinx, insane. That was interesting.

All the rest was awful. The story is just them meeting one group of annoying idiots after another with no consequences. Each group is defined by tediously irritating speech patterns. All don’t use the letter “D” but others talk as if they have mouths full of toffee so Dhikilo has to repeat back what they say and none of the dialogue is worthwhile.

What makes it worse is how contrived everything is. Why the letter “D”? Just ‘cos. How does the Gamp in this world affect the “real” world (though Dhikilo’s English home town of Cawber-on-Sands isn’t real either)? No idea. Why are there so many Dickens references (Magwitches, Droods, Bleak House, Nelly/Little Nell) - what’s the relevance? No point - Faber’s just a Dickens fanboy, it seems. Why do so many people go along with this weird arbitrary rule of not using the letter “D” when no-one enforces it and there’s no consequences to using it anyway? No idea. Just because this is essentially a book for kids doesn’t mean you can cut corners with sloppy storytelling.

The first act was decent, the Bleak House part was ok, but most of the novel is a dreary journey through the dullest, least imaginative “fantasy” landscape ever. I wouldn’t recommend D to either fantasy or Faber fans. It’s rare for a book to have its quality accurately stamped on the cover - I give D a D-grade! If you want to read something similar that’s actually good, Lewis Carroll’s Alice books are still the gold standard, closely followed by The Phantom Tollbooth and Walter Moers’ Zamonia novels.
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Reads like a very old-fashioned children's book with an avuncular and intrusive narrator. Dhikilo, the protagonist, is 13 but reads younger, and the plot is a linear there-and-back-again, encountering various odd characters along the way. I'm apparently not the only reviewer to be reminded of The Phantom Tollbooth.

I was left with questions, including: If the child from our world, who must do the thing that apparently nobody in the world on the far side of the portal is capable of doing, is African, is it still a white-saviour trope? And if the stupid, violent, primitive, cannibalistic savages with spears are grey in colour and the person they capture and threaten is African, is it still offensive?

I'm inclined to answer "yes" to both of those questions.

What I did like was that the civil servant in one of those odd encounters was as helpful as he could be, and as defiant of the regime as he could be, while still overtly observing the rules. So at least in some ways we are stepping beyond the tropes and stereotypes - though mostly we are not.

There are some important themes here about despotism and how it gains, keeps, and loses its hold on people, which are more relevant than ever today. But the delivery vehicle was a bit lacking for me.
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I am a huge fan of Michel Faber’s writing and, even though I understood that ‘D A Tale of Two Worlds’ is advertised as a YA read, I was keen to enjoy his latest novel.  As ever, his prose quickly draws the reader into the narrative and his use of figurative language brings to life the strange world in which the letter D is being systematically destroyed.  The ‘wooden furniture polished so thoroughly it shone like syrup’ conjures up the opulent setting of the tricksy hotel Bleak House in the fantasy world of Gampalonia.  The portrayal of the dictator the Gamp as having ‘…lips …pursed and puffing, like a cross between a baby and a fish’ slyly brings to mind a currently much televised world leader and the many intertextual references to the works of Dickens, C S Lewis and Thurber are likely to be enjoyed by adult readers too.
It’s not easy to predict just how well received the novel will be by its target audience.  My guess is that it will be more readily enjoyed by slightly younger readers, not least because teenagers might balk at the scant character development of the central female character, Dhikilo.  The heroine of the adventure, along with Nelly or Mrs Robinson, her labrador/sphinx companion, she shows cunning and courage as she battles through several adventures in order to reach her destination.  However, Dhikilo does not seem to grow from and reflect much on all of her experiences and the final pages feel rushed, as if the author has had enough and is as keen to finish the adventure as Dhikilo is!  Certainly a fantasy world which younger readers may well enjoy but probably not one which will remain with them into adulthood in the way that some creations do.
My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review.
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This was immensely weird and hugely enjoyable. I have no idea who we’re going to sell it to because I have no idea if it’s a kids book or an adult book, but that said, half my colleagues want to read it already based on the cover and my enthusiasm alone so perhaps it doesn’t matter all that much. 
This is the closest I’ve come, as an adult, to reading a book that feels like a fairytale I somehow missed as a child. Which, I suppose, is exactly what writers like C S Lewis managed to achieve. D is comparable to the Narnia series and, as it states, Dickens, but it’s a sort of mash between the two. It reads as a sort of modern fable - despite a very predictable layout and recognisable elements, it draws on more recent ideas of what fantasy writing can be and uses as current events to shape its villain, and as a result of that and Michel Faber’s wild imagination, feels completely original. He’s one of those writers who will do a better job at a genre he’s never written before than most authors do in the genre they’ve spent half their life writing. The one thing that puts it more seriously in the ‘children’s fiction’ category for me was the ending. It tied up very neatly and with no bloodshed - and as an adult, that was vaguely unsatisfying.
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I trie to like this, I really did. The writing was amazing, thats undeniable. But there was nothing keeping me there. I didn't care enough about the characters or whatever happened to the letter D.  The sentences missing the letter became hard to read and would often take me a few goes to get my head around and in the end I didn't find the lost of the letter all that life threatening. I see what Faber is trying to do and the idea is a charming one I just don't think I was the intended audience. Maybe if I was younger I'd care a bit more.
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