Cover Image: The Escapement

The Escapement

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THE ESCAPEMENT, by Lavie Tidhar, is quite possibly the weirdest book I have ever read.  And no, I'm not saying it as if it's a bad thing.  It just, well, is.

I was going to try to be be clever, using a dictionary definition of the word "escapement" to help describe the book.  The website dictionary.com has 5 definitions of the word escapement, none of which (for me) accurately describe the book.  The website thesaurus.com wasn't much better.  It gave 8 synonyms for the word escapement, but I wasn't satisfied with any one of them.

It figures.  The book defies description.  But that's not a bad thing.  It's really a good thing.  How many books do readers comes across these days that are so different, so offbeat, so..weird, that they defy description?  Not many.  But we certainly have one here.

The Escapement (not the book, but the setting), is an alternate, parallel world populated with all sorts of weird creatures and  occurrences.  It is not unusual, to see on any given day, clowns (sometimes vicious), mimes (also sometimes vicious), bounty hunters, tarot cards, and giants made of stone.  There are unexplained wars occurring, including wars between symbols.  Heck, wars between different clown factions are referred to.  The landscape is sometimes surrealistic, invoking images that remind the reader of Salvador Dali. We meet a version of John Wayne Gacy (as a clown, of course), who is nearly impossible to kill.  It's...weird.  But that's not a bad thing.

Our protagonist, if he can be called that, is known as "the Stranger".  He has come to the Escapement to search for a particular flower, the "Ur-shanabi", the Plant of Heartbeat.  He has come from our reality, the one we are familiar with, where his son is dying in a hospital.  Our reality is known as that "other place", and there are ways of intentionally travelling between the two worlds, all of which involve the use of mind altering chemicals, whether it be alcohol or drugs.  Sometimes the Stranger can see across to the other worlds.  It's...weird.  But that's not a bad thing.

Without giving anything away, THE ESCAPEMENT tells the story of the Stranger looking for the aforementioned plant in order to help save his son back in our world.  But while that's the story element the novel hangs its hat on, it is almost such a minor point as to be almost irrelevant.  THE ESCAPEMENT is really Tidhar's excuse for taking a whole bunch of literary references and dumping them into one story to see if he can make them fit together.  And if he can't, so what? Yes, there's a narrative thread to follow throughout the book, but it's only here in order for Tidhar to masterfully weave all sorts of different things together
that make the reader's brain explode, or at the very least make readers shake their heads in bewilderment, but, ultimately, wonderment.

A few weeks ago as I write this Lavie Tidhar was a guest on The Coode Street Podcast.  When talking about THE ESCAPEMENT, he said "that book is just weird".  And I agree with him.  But it's not a bad weird.  It's a good weird.  It's a book that doesn't telegraph where it's going.  It's also a book that feels like it doesn't know where it's going until it gets there.  But it's not predictable by any stretch of the imagination.  And it does stretch the reader's imagination in a very good way.  It's something different, and something weird.  And in this case, it's a very good thing.
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“The Stranger had been travelling for a long time, searching for the Flower of Heartbeat, and he was destined to travel for a long time more.”

The description can tell you only so much. The Stranger travels with his rifle through unpredictable land of Escapement, to find the Flower of Heartbeat. The man tries to cope with the dying of his little son. 

I don´t think I´ve read so complex book since last year´s Driftwood by Marie Brennan (which was also amazing). From practically first paragraph you know this will be emotional journey. On the one hand, there is the man, devasted in hospital, trying to somehow save his son (no spoilers, first pages of the book), thinking about memories they have together – visiting of circus, the boy´s love for clowns, balloons,..). On the other hand, the Stranger is travelling through magical western of Escapement, trying to find the cure. 

BUT! Don´t expect sweet sad story. The Escapement is everything but. The Escapement is brutal, not forgiving, battleyard between giants and something else, equally terrifying. Magical storms which can transform parts of your body to hourclocks full of ants; clowns, throwing at you custard pies which melt your face; time warping villages to never let you go….

I´ve never saw such blending of two timelines/stories together. It reminded me movie The Fall, but the Escapement was more fluid, more brutal (and I hope, someday, Tidhar´ll give us some notes from writing this story). Everything is going one direction – can the Stranger find the Flower and save the boy? 

And as I´m accidentally listening Mad World right now, it somehow enhancing the sorrowful/insane feel of this book. The Escapement is literally mad, worlds are blending together, horrible massacres happening; but also watching the man in hospital, you are devasted along him. I love how this book is not personal (you don´t even know their names), but you feel everything with characters. Not only the main ones, but also sidekicks (as the right western), I love all of them.

It´s definitely one of the best books I´ve read for a long time. Also, did I mention it has a map? ♥ 

Thanks to Netgalley for an e-ARC. Now I want to have it on my shelves and hug it from time to time.
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Well written, easy to read story about the intersection of a magical land, real life and many strange dimensions.  Life-threatening clowns and mimes live here as well.
No plot, no character development just really strange world being.  Very visual and feels like a Salvador Dali painting with Dark Tower overtones.
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I like the concept - parallel worlds as an escape (literally, an Escapement) from grief, populated with whatever associations someone brings in - but the execution just felt messy and heavy-handed and overloaded with references (it’s the Tarot but it’s also some sort of spaghetti Western but it’s also war but it’s also some sort of bizarre clown as separate species type situation.) I guess this was supposed to be balanced by the constant flicker of the very grim real world scenario the man was in but instead it just led me to not be invested in either.
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Lavie Tidhar es un autor que siempre está buscando sorprender. En la búsqueda de contar historias distintas a lo que la mayoría de las novedades nos ofrecen su propuesta varía desde historias de género negro, ciencia ficción con puro sentido de la maravilla o ficciones históricas, entre otros muchos temas. En este caso no podía ser menos. Su nueva novela es una especie de western protagonizado por un padre que vela por su hijo en una habitación de hospital mientras viaja en sus sueños a un mundo cuasi desértico y fantástico lleno de payasos, circos, dioses, seres mitológicos y forajidos que le harán la vida imposible. Vayamos por partes.

Como decía, The Escapement arranca con un padre en un hospital. A su lado, su hijo enfermo en el filo entre la vida y la muerte. El adulto, mientras avanza con la lectura de su libro, va pegando unas cabezadas que lo llevan de manera ficticia, quizá real, a un mundo desértico llamado The Escapement que se asemeja a lo que vendría a ser el lejano oeste de las películas de vaqueros, pero con influencias de Carnivale, la serie de HBO de hace unos años.

En su sueño, The Stranger, que es como se le conoce en este lugar, comienza la búsqueda de una flor muy especifica que puede ayudar en el objetivo de salvar a su hijo de un fatal destino. La flor, llamada Ur-Shanabi, es la flor del corazón y solo puede ser encontrada en las Montañas de la Oscuridad, lejos de su punto de partida. Durante los episodios de esta historia iremos viendo como The Stranger se maneja en este mundo donde la supervivencia no es una cosa sencilla. De primeras veremos que se trata de un lugar lleno de payasos y acróbatas cuyas intenciones no son precisamente buenas.

Enseguida se encontrará con un aliado, un niño que lo ayudará a manejarse por las distintas fases de la historia. Como si de un videojuego se tratase, The Stranger se ira enfrentando en cada uno de los episodios a nuevos enemigos, algunos cuasi inmortales como veremos. Y es aquí donde la imaginería de Tidhar se despliega en su esplendor con todo un elenco de personajes de todo estilo y origen provenientes de las mitologías griega, hebrea, rusa y otras muchas. El elenco es increíble y cada ocurrencia a lo largo del camino resulta cada vez mas loca que la anterior.

En el arranque también tenía la sensación de que el autor había querido homenajear las clásicas tramas de las películas de vaqueros y cada capítulo alguno de los tópicos del género. Encontramos una ambientación muy similar: cazadores de recompensas, ladrones de bancos, bares de alterne poco recomendables, etc. También hay robos o duelos a tiros entre los personajes. Sin embargo, en apenas tres o cuatro episodios el abanico se despliega y el componente weird se abre para sorpresa continua de quien lo esta leyendo. Esto incluye Dioses en Guerra, personajes con instrumentos como extremidades, fusiones humanas con animales y otras muchas cosas que dan lugar a situaciones inverosímiles y, algún caso, muy divertidas.

En contraposición a este despliegue de imaginación e investigación por parte de Tidhar, no podemos olvidar el eje de la novela: el padre desesperado por la sueprvivencia de su hijo. Es interesante los retazos que se van salpicando cuando el personaje cambia entre ambos mundos preguntándose cuál es el verdadero en realidad. Le achaco a esta parte la escasez de componente emocional en la historia. Los viajes al mundo real apenas aportan un hilo conductor, pero una vez llegado al final de la novela apenas encuentro una motivación que justifique la alocada trama en el mundo alternativo, si es que era ese el objetivo.

The Escapement es por tanto una novela muy original. El despliegue de situaciones y personajes de toda índole, unido a una ambientación western y circense es una combinación que merece la pena visitar y dejarse llevar esperando lo imposible. El enlace con la historia del mundo real es anecdótico y ambiguo y el final bastante abierto, pero eso apenas supone un pequeño porcentaje de una historia alocada y llena de detalles fuera de lo común donde el asombro no deja de crecer según se avanzan las páginas.
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The Escapement est un roman de Lavie Tidhar, dans lequel l’auteur mêle Weird Fiction, western, Fantasy, et univers juxtaposés. Il met en scène la quête d’un père au chevet de son fils atteint d’une maladie cardiaque, qui évolue sous les traits du Stranger dans le monde surnaturel de l’Escapement, dans lequel il recherche Ur-Shanabi, une fleur qui pourrait guérir son enfant.
Ce monde, peu à peu colonisé par les humains, comporte des créatures surnaturelles telles que des clowns, les Arcanes Majeures du Tarot, mais aussi les Colosses et les pupae umbrarum, qui se livrent un conflit séculaire qui détruit ou transforme profondément les humains qui se retrouvent pris entre leurs feux.
Le récit s’ancre pleinement dans la Weird Fiction de par le monde et les métamorphoses qu’il décrit et le mélange des genres qu’il opère, ce que j’ai beaucoup apprécié ! J’ai trouvé la quête du Stranger et la fin du roman particulièrement touchants.
Si vous avez aimé Aucune terre n’est promise et que vous lisez en anglais, je vous recommande vivement la lecture de The Escapement !
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A very difficult work to categorize neatly, but a definite interesting one to experience.

I have received this book in exchange of an honest review, thank you to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for the opportunity.

I have my own blog now (Daysinotherworlds.com), so please do give it a visit if you're interested in my other reviews :)

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I'm having a bit of difficulty trying to talk about this book, or more accurately, novella and I do believe that it comes down to the amount of things happening in it despite its length. Bottom line, it's one of the most creative pieces of writing I've ever had the pleasure to read, although, that in itself does make it difficult to categorize.

There is a circus vibe, parallel universes, a western take, some horror elements, mystery and one of the more interesting takes on clowns. To me personally, the more amazing thing here is that the author actually managed to make a cohesive story while trying to incorporate all of these elements in a creepy setting, and sort of maintain a somewhat whimsical flare to it? Like I said, it's an interesting read.

The first half of the novella is more than enough to grip me and I was definitely interested to learn more about this strange, yet also incredible world; more specifically, the clowns and the parallel universes.

Clowns exist in abundance in this world and better yet, there are types that I get to see every time the characters move to a new location and they experience it's horrors. There were plenty of fights as well, so the opportunity to see the clowns in that way was never missed, even if the opponents, to be fair of course, weren't always clowns. This brought my focus to the parallel universes and how the author fused those elements with the story he's telling, more specifically, in regards to the characters and their existence. I use existence here instead of just characters, because it's important and isn't just in passing.

Underneath all of this, it's a sad story of a father trying to find a cure for his dying son which is a problem that, at the story's basis, is never actually forgotten and I'm thankful for that; since the mix between universes definitely makes it feel like it's a child's fantasy at times even though it's much darker than one would expect. Maybe not, given what the child in question is actually going through here, but that's just me babbling.

However, while I did love the first half, the second was a bit of a tough one for me to get through and it comes down to the narrative styles. To better clarify it, the writing of the story seems to be a strange mix of a short story collection, alongside the usual more linear form of a story and that to me didn't always work out. The start of the novella had this sense of urgency to it, while I follow the Stranger through this weird world and as I continued onward, that sense of urgency sort of lessened, because of how many stops he actually made in that world and how many people he ended up meeting who aren't exactly beneficial to the quest.

I wouldn't have actually minded if it was a few paragraphs of a stop, but full chapters for side characters who most of the time aren't coming back? That was a stretch for me, because I thought that the world was just way too interesting and I don't think I got to see everything that made it what it was just yet.

In a novel of a lesser word and page count, it could potentially fall into the "It's trying to do too much" camp, which I believe, this one sort of did in the second half of it, which is saddening because it starts out very nicely with its creepy world, filled with unsavory characters and wrapped around the subplot concerning said parallel universes.

This happens to be my first try with Lavie Tidhar and I believe that it won't be the last as I admire this kind of creativity, I admire this whimsical/lyrical sort of writing and I do think that it's got more than enough going for it that it interests me in the author's other works.
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“Stories. Stories are all we have, really, in this world or the other.”

The Escapement by Lavie Tidhar was a fantasy story set in an American western. The writing style was different and magical which suit to the narrative. The characters and the new circus world were well-drawn. A heartbreaking story with humor and adventure that was dark for me.

In the Country of Clowns,
The Kid and the Stranger exchanged a glance,
The Stranger and the Conjurer exchanged a glance.

The Stranger looking for the Ur-shanabi, the Plant of Heartbeat, the healing plant which can cure even time; in the parallel world. In the Escapement, there was nowhere to escape to, only the mountains, the clowns, and death on every side. Clowns were indigenous to the Escapement, while people were not and nobody really liked clowns.

The Stranger journey was with three main companions, the boy who had become the Conjurer, the Kid that was not a kid anymore, and let's do not forget Temperanza,
“The more I see of men, the more I like dogs.” 

Many thanks to Tachyon Publications and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read The Escapement by Lavie Tidhar, I have given my honest review.
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It's difficult to review. On one hand, it's mind-bending and proves Tidhars' imagination has no limits. On the other hand, it's hard to relate to anyone in this story. It's cerebral fun, but emotionally it left me cold.
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Author Lavie Tidhar has created a Frankenstein genre combining Westerns, surrealism, and retro circuses in his upcoming September release, “ The Escapement.”
Welcome to the Escapement–a Westernesque world of clowns with a dash of Salvador Dali surrealism. The Escapement isn’t a merciful world; murderous clowns, train-robbing aerialists, and stone giants fighting an ancient war run rampant throughout this desolate landscape, all while a lone gunman–the Stranger–is set on an epic quest to save his dying son. 
The Escapement possesses intimate connections to the Stranger’s son, a kid who loves circuses and clowns. It makes it the perfect setting for The Stranger’s search to find the mythical Plant of Heartbeat and potential cure. 
There’s no denying the worldbuilding of “The Escapement” is spectacular. Like the Big Rock Candy Mountains, the surrealist creatures and extravagant landmarks can only be described as one of Salvador Dalí’s more elaborate wet dreams. Everything from the landscape and lore to this dangerous world’s inhabitants has been carefully woven into the tale and the Stranger’s quest. Even taking figures from reality, such as casting serial killer John Wayne Gacy as the murderous, giant clown and infamous showman P. T. Barnum as a clown slave owner, darkens this novel to something other than a heroes quest. Tidhar masters the art of creating a world so maniacally realistic and epic that it almost seems like you, too, can step through to the Escapement, just like the Stranger did. 
With its cast of eclectic, nameless characters and strange stirrings in the land, the novel is a quick page-turner and won’t have you reading chapters worth of useless worldbuilding to drag your excitement down.  Although undeniably epic, “The Escapement” often confuses with its allusions to real-world events and people that, for some, will make them scratch their head. 
This novel isn’t a heart-pounding thriller but is a decadent and showstopping story of hope, adventure, and at its heart–love.
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A man journeys through a parallel world, filled with a dangerous circus themed society and gods who are always at war, to find a cure for his sick son.

This is was good book, very engaging and interesting. The world building was amazing and it's rare that such a different world can feel so realistic and grounded.
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Lavie Tidhar’s The Escapement starts quietly enough: A man who has been sitting with his very ill son in a hospital room steps out for some fresh air and notices a small red flower by the sidewalk. Then we see that flower through the eyes of the Stranger in a surreal, barren landscape. We are off on a brilliant and unpredictable tour of a world only Tidhar could imagine. With his six-shooters, the Stranger rides his horse on a quest for a healing flower. This novel is a strange mix of darkly comic violence and the quiet devotion of a father’s love for his son.

The world the Stranger wanders is the Escapement. It is populated with grotesque clowns, bounty hunters who massacre them for money, and a variety of unique characters who sometimes help the Stranger, sometimes try to kill him. Above all, it is a world where time keeps sounding its relentless tick, tick but sometimes seems to stand still.
....

The story starts to shift when the Stranger notices traces of the “other place” as ghostly cars, people and buildings slip through the landscape from time to time. The man in that other place sits endlessly by the bedside of his ailing child. At one point, the Stranger travels into a deep tunnel that seems to come out at the hospital room, but as he approaches it his own body becomes translucent. He can’t be sure if the man in the hospital room has dreamed him into being or if the Stranger has dreamed that man. The barriers between realities are tenuous, and there is a frightening uncertainty about where he belongs.

These shifts of consciousness between worlds and the drawing of themes and symbols from one reality into another remind me of Iain Banks’ The Bridge. But The Escapement is an original masterpiece that is all Tidhar, full of echoes of his earlier stories and novels.

As Tidhar notes in an Afterword, he has drawn on numerous sources, including Hebrew and Russian fairytales, Greek myth, Dr. Seuss, Salvador Dali’s painting and the Epic of Gilgamesh, among others. But all of that is integrated perfectly into a compelling story that no one else could have envisioned. It is written in often beautifully moving language that reminds me of the more personal style of Tidhar’s Central Station, which also deals with boundaries and borders in a very different way.

Each of Lavie Tidhar’s novels seems unique, yet the quality of imagination, the brilliance of writing and many themes tie them together. For me each of his novels feels like a breakthrough into a different level of consciousness, full of wonder, bizarre twists and turns and always deep feeling.
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Series Info/Source:  This is a stand alone book.  I got an eGalley of this through NetGalley to review.

Thoughts:  I really loved this book, although it won't be for everyone.  Previous to this I read Tidhar’s Bookman Histories and really enjoyed them.  The story mainly follows a character called The Stranger who falls back and forth between our world and a circus-like world whose natural inhabitants are different types of clowns.  In our world he is a father sitting beside the bed of his dying child and in the circus world he is on a quest to find a rare flower that will save his child.

The descriptions are amazing throughout and the clown world is incredibly creative and imaginative.  I loved some of the imagery here and never knew what surprise I would find on the next page.  This does have a fairly dark vibe to it but still comes off as magical and whimsical at times.

The comparison between this book and The Dark Tower series is very apt.  The Stranger ends up joining up with a character called The Kid.  The Kid in turn is searching for The Conjurer.  The landscape here is a lot more fanciful than the Dark Tower series, but it has a similar questing type of vibe to it and characters fall back and forth between worlds.

My Summary (5/5): Overall I really, really enjoyed this and would recommend it.  My only caution is that the story feels a bit ambiguous at times and the ending is fairly open.  This is one that won't be for people who like a very straight-up and defined story.  However, for me it was about the journey, the adventure, and the crazy world that lies just beyond our own.  I just loved the world-building here and really enjoyed the strange and expected turns the story took.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. 

I just couldn't get into this one. I tried - A Gunslinger! Going through dreams! Subjects I love... but this didn't' work.

I lost interest multiple times and had to go back to see what was happening. 

Thankfully it wasn't that long.
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If you're a fan of a bizarre fantasy world, absurdist stories, or even magical realism, I think this book is perfect for you.

It follows the story of this man whose son is really sick and hospitalized and someone tells him to find the Ur-Shanabi, the Flower of Heartbeat, as that might be the only way to save his son. 
We follow the same character in the two different worlds- one, the real-world history of the world called the Escapement. 
So in the Escapement, the Flower of Heartbeat is a thing that does exist, and this man is traveling around the place looking for it. Along the way, he will meet a lot of people, a lot of very strange, very weird people; but it also alternates with glimpses of the real world.

The writing is very fluid, beautiful and fever dream-like, almost bordering on the edge of lucidity.
Although the individual chapters are very long, the book itself is pretty short only 13 to 14 chapters, I think. The story is very emotional very different and refreshing.

It shows the lengths a father would go to protect his son. I thought it was incredible and I highly recommend picking this one up.
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The Escapement is a brilliantly strange story that takes all matter of tropes and mythologies, sticks them in a blender, and serves them up beautifully. 

The main character is The Stranger, a nameless man who slips in between two worlds. One world is the 'normal' reality where he sits at his dying son's bedside. The other is the Escapement, an alternate 'old west' setting where circus clowns are analogous to Native Americans, storms are created by dueling old gods, and the overall vibe is a cross between old Sergio Leone westerns combined with Stephen King's Dark Tower series. I find it difficult to adequately summarize it further, other than to say it seems like a story about a father's grief driving him away from reality and into another world of imagination as a coping mechanism.

There are so many wild things going on in this story that I was enthralled at times and overwhelmed at others, and ultimately I found a satisfying conclusion waiting for me at the end. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and would recommend it to anyone looking for something that's a bit off the beaten path.

As I said before, there's a strong Dark Tower vibe here but with enough of a unique voice all its own, so I think fans of that series would find a lot to like in this book. It's a startling and unique tale that will be on my mind for quite a while.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher Tachyon Publications, and the author Lavie Tidhar for an advance reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.
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In his latest book, The Escapement, Lavie Tidhar shows his capacity to keep readers guessing. He has done alternate history and the multiverse (Unholy Land), science fiction (Central Station) and most recently a wild retelling of the Arthurian myth (By Force Alone). The Escapement is both easy and difficult to describe – it is a new weird Western, set in a shadow world or our own, but is also a story of love and loss and dealing with grief.
The Escapement has a double opening. The first is a man sitting by a hospital bed where his son lies in a coma. The appearance of a small red flower segues into the second opening to what is the main narrative, the story of the Stranger who is on a mission across a world known as the Escapement to find a rare flower, the Plant of the Heartbeat, one with the capacity to heal. But before he can do that, the Stranger comes across a massacre and together with a bounty hunter tracks down the perpetrators. The massacre is of eleven clowns (including Whitefaces, Augustes and Hobos), a native species in the world of the Escapement, killed for their scalps.
The world of the Escapement is one in which clowns are hunted, the major figures of the Tarot roam the land, and the people are trapped in an ongoing war between giant mythical creatures that leaves ordinary people forever changed. The Escapement also overlaps our own world with people moving between the two realities. The narrative sends the Stranger on a series of quests, missions and adventures as he makes his way across the landscape towards his ultimate goal. As he does so, Tidhar plays with a range of Western tropes – including a train robbery, saloons, grizzled war veterans and journeys of vengeance. But the narrative also drops in and out of the story of a father trying to deal with his son’s worsening condition in the “real world” (although the question is often asked – “So they dream us or do we dream them?”).
In his Afterword, Tidhar expresses his debt to the influences behind The Escapement. This includes a Hebrew fairy tale from the 1930s, Mesopotamian and Greek mythology, the Tarot, the poem “Ozymandius” and Sergio Leone’s 1966 Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. But for all that, the book itself reads like a cross between China Miéville’s new weird aesthetic and Stephen King’s fantasy Gunslinger styling, even though neither of these influences are credited. Just as an example, this is part of the description of what happens when a “chthonic bomb” explodes in the middle of a city:
A man pushing a food cart looked briefly puzzled and then turned into a pink flamingo. He spread his wings experimentally and took to the air.
The towers of the city began to melt. A horse-drawn cart swerved sharply to avoid a swirl of tomatoes which had drawn together into a humanoid shape and ran down the street, leaving juicy footprints in its wake. The horse reared back and its legs turned to glass in the air and it remained there, suspended, only the eyes still alive and blinking.
Each chapter of The Escapement is its own, self-contained story in a broader overall narrative, drawing from a different part of the Western tradition but in a sideways, off-kilter way. But The Escapement is more than this, particularly in its links to the “real world” and the potential that it is all just an escape for a man dealing with a personal tragedy. Taken together, The Escapement is another eye-opening, brain busting, heart rending and page-turning novel from Tidhar.
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How come the prolific, multifaceted Israeli author, Lavie Tidhar, never came to my attention? My loss entirely, for if  “The Escapement” is any guide, Tidhar is a spellbinding stylist with a spell-casting imagination. Part fantasy, part sci-fi, part surreal mainstream, this novel plonks the reader into a vast, surreal landscape, the Escapement, in which clowns and stone monsters and cowboys and classic fictional characters coexist in a shifting tableau. The Stranger is our hero, a warrior searching for mythical flowers, even as in another universe he sits at his sick boy’s side in a hospital. None of this should work but all of it does, the author managing to evoke sadness, awe, and even humor. I could only compare my reading to old Philip K. Dick married to Samuel R. Delaney. The Escapement is a captivating triumph of imagination.
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The dark fairy tale, western-style vibes of this reminded me very strongly of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, a story which I respect immensely but could not finish because the content became too dark for what I was able to handle. I feel similarly about Tidhar's Escapement. While the world-building is certainly remarkable, the tone and style of the writing was not quite my cup of tea, nor was the level of violence and gore.
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The writing style just didn’t working for me and I didn’t like the way the author set up the story. I thought it was very disjointed, the setting, while interesting was all over the place and it didn’t flow well. I feel like this book needs to be re-edited and refined to make it a smoother read. I’m sure plenty of people will love the creepiness of the clowns and machinery
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