Member Reviews

This book must have been the more original plot line I have ever experienced!
ALthough difficult to follow at first with all this world building which is thrown at you, I loved both the writing and both of the two different worlds we get to experience. You did it again, ANgry Robot Books! I much appreciate you sending me a physical copy of this book :)

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A book full of whimsy and magic mixed with a stark dark reality, I wasn’t really sure how to feel about this book at first, and the blurb summaries the book well so I won’t repeat it here.

Plot lines wove in ways that admittedly did make it difficult to follow in some areas and may possibly confuse some readers, but I get a distinct feeling from the author that this book is not written for everyone and that they’re completely okay with that. It’s somewhat refreshing, in a sense. Although once I grabbed hold of the characters and they developed in my mind a little better, my read become a lot easier for me and their adventures in the March were even somewhat exhilarating.

I’ll be upfront and admit that this is my first work from Daniel Polanski, who can obviously most certainly write a story! I could definitely be talked into reading more of his works, I enjoyed the way Daniel doesn’t shy away from the much darker sides of both fantasy and the harsher realities of life.

I have to admit that it took me a long while to read due to the time it took me to be really invested in the characters and their fates. That and I found it to be one of those books that was hard to pick up and casually read just a few pages when I had the time to read, and this is not casual book. I can’t hold that against it though as that’s just the kind of book it is, so I didn’t want that to reflect in my eventual rating as overall I enjoyed it. Completely agree with other reviewers comparing it to a dark Narnia too.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and author for providing this ARC to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Me temo que no he sido muy justa durante la lectura de la nueva obra de Daniel Polansky, porque he tardado muchísimo en acabarla debido a que iba intercalando otras lecturas que me urgían más dentro del caos que es mi Pila de Lectura TM. En parte esto era problema mío, por supuesto, pero en parte también era debido a que la propia obra no me ha atrapado como otras obras del mismo autor sí lo han conseguido.

El caso es que la premisa de March's End es muy pero que muy atractiva. Nos encontramos ante una fantasía multigeneracional, con portales a otros mundos fantásticos y una familia encargada de salvaguardar los distintos reinos que forman The March. Simultáneamente, esta familia humana deberá mantener su fachada en el mundo real, algo que resulta muy difícil cuando en tus ratos libres eres parte de la aristocracia y recorres mundos fantásticos repartiendo mandobles.

El problema es que las dos realidades que coexisten en el libro de Daniel Polansky están muy descompensadas. Aunque The March es un derroche de imaginación, una muestra constante de la increíble capacidad inventiva del autor, el mundo real es gris, aburrido, monótono y no nos interesa para nada. Entiendo que el objetivo del autor era remarcar ese contraste, pero creo que se ha pasado de frenada.

También he de confesar que a veces resulta un poco confuso no el salto entre mundos, si no los saltos temporales que utiliza Polansky para ir ampliando la información que nos va ofreciendo así como para dotar de mayor profundidad a los personajes, ya que una vez que conoces su trasfondo no los ves con los mismos ojos. Que yo haya leído el libro a matacaballo tampoco favorece la comprensión de estos flashbacks, pues no quiero achacarle toda la responsabilidad al autor.

En definitiva, se trata de una novela que yo quería haber disfrutado

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Daniel Polansky plays with a darker, more dangerous version of Narnia, populated by not only talking animals, but also live, stuffed creatures and other kinds of toys, constructed beings with a steampunk vibe, creatures made of water, and many more. Like Narnia, this other world has human rulers, the Harrow family who in Baltimore in the US, but transit to the March, usually when they sleep.

The current ruler Queen Sophia is dying, and her three grown up children return home to discover that with Sophia’s waning power, a malignant power, the End, is threatening all of the March. The End is advancing, and creatures are fleeing before it. Sophia has been protecting March for years, and it’s taken a physical toll on her.

Sophia's adult children are not happy to be reunited, as their childhood was not the warmest. Sophia’s harsh and uncompromising ways are fine as a ruler in a land where force and violence are seen as right, but are detrimental to raising a healthy family. The trio's childhood tensions and differences were exacerbated as they grew up, and now they must figure out how to protect and save the March while resolving their problems.

There is also a movement amongst some of the people of the the March: they want to get rid of the Harrows and rule themselves. Of course Sophia is against this, and her children hold conflicting views about their family's role in the land. And everything comes to a head as the End advances on the Harrow's seat of power.

I loved all the ideas in this book, and the sheer variety of beings Polansky populates this other world with. I also liked how we went back and forth in time to see how the Harrow family ended up so divided, angry, and conflicted.

However, I found that this book dragged for me. Polansky spends a lot of prose describing the many types of people and the land, and I found that the pacing came to a halt while I digested the worldbuilding.

The family members' pain was well handled, no one is particularly likeable or right, and I actually enjoyed the earth-set scenes more than those in the March. I wanted to love this book, but I did not.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Angry Robot for this ARC in exchange for my review.

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I wanted to really like this, and I think it does a few things exceptionally well.

What I wanted out of this was the March to be a fully understood part of the world. I wanted to know where it begun and ended and the magic that made the family be able to do the things. Every single time we were in the March it was like my brain was expanding because Daniel Polansky has this incredible imagination for squishy creatures, a toy box as a faction without it being creepy (hard to do). I wanted more of that.

I think the other part of this that didn't connect with me, is because I am an only child. I've never had siblings, but this felt like an entire examination of that. And not that it isn't my ministry for family dynamics, because you have to admit this is a wierd one. But I'm sure for those who do have siblings, this rang true for a lot of experiences they may have had.

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Not for me. I just couldn’t get into it. Too many characters and too wordy. I think horror isn’t the genre for me

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I requested this because the idea of a generational portal fantasy appealed to me a lot, and I wanted to see how Polansky handled it. This definitely leans heavily into the darker side of fantasy (almost horror I would argue at times), and juxtaposes it against a dysfunctional family that probably already would have been dysfunctional without the whole "secretly ruling a portal fantasy world" thing. The whole book is written in omniscient third, and to some degree, it feels like there's a bit of a remove to the narration that is an attempt to sound like a grand history at times, but doesn't always work and makes you feel a bit disconnected from the characters and what's going on. Description is absolutely gorgeous though, and some A++ nightmare scenarios. I'm happy to have read it, though, and will generally recommend it.

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"March's End" by Daniel Polansky is a thrilling and captivating fantasy novel that takes readers on an unforgettable journey through a vividly imagined world. The story follows a diverse group of characters, each with their own motivations and secrets, as they navigate a world on the brink of catastrophe.

Polansky's writing style is masterful, with rich descriptions and intricate world-building that immediately immerses readers into the setting. The author effortlessly paints a picture of a gritty and dangerous world, filled with political intrigue, dark magic, and morally ambiguous characters.

One of the novel's greatest strengths lies in its complex and well-developed characters. Each character has their own unique voice and backstory, making them feel real and relatable. Polansky expertly weaves their individual narratives together, creating a tapestry of intertwining stories that keep readers guessing and engaged until the very end.

The pacing of the story is excellent, with a perfect balance between action-packed sequences and moments of introspection. Polansky skillfully builds tension throughout the narrative, keeping readers on the edge of their seats. The plot twists and turns, surprising the reader at every corner, but never feeling forced or contrived.

Furthermore, "March's End" explores thought-provoking themes such as power, loyalty, and the consequences of one's choices. These deeper layers add depth and complexity to the story, making it more than just a typical fantasy adventure.

In conclusion, "March's End" is a compelling and well-crafted novel that will satisfy fans of dark fantasy and intrigue. Daniel Polansky's skillful storytelling, vivid world-building, and memorable characters make this book a must-read for any fantasy enthusiast. Prepare to be enthralled from beginning to end.

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So… think of the Narnia books, but with a squabbling family in charge of keeping Mr Tumnus et al safe from all threats. It’s an intriguing premise. Polansky opts for a fractured narrative timeline, which means that we are constantly flipping from the current crisis, where everything is starting to fall apart, back to various scenes from the past, presumably to give us insights into why the current generation is in such a mess.

This approach gives us a front row seat into some of the faultlines that fracture the family. The terrible childhood accident that defines John’s behaviour and an ill-advised teenage romance by Mary Ann with shocking consequences drive home that the March isn’t some whimsical playground where youngsters can parade their fantastical alter egos. It’s a dangerous place peopled by a variety of entirely different creatures, with differing cultures and customs. What unites the majority is their allegiance to the Harrow family as their lords and protectors. I felt there were some high points where the family scenes worked really well in pinpointing those fracture lines. However, there are also quite a few – especially featuring Constance, Mary Ann and John as youngsters – where I didn’t feel we get as much insight as we really need to fully bond with the main characters. It’s always a tricky balance to snag the reader’s sympathy when protagonists are shown to be constantly battling each other – and I didn’t care for any of them. Which proved to be an ongoing problem, especially at the end.

Frustratingly, I also felt there are vital scenes missing. I wanted to see that scene between Sophie and Will, instead of hearing Sophie merely allude to it. Because it clearly changed everything. While we learn a great deal about John’s feelings about his scarring, there is nothing about how he gained his formidable powers.

What is undeniable is the vividness and sheer variety of the creatures within the March. Polansky’s writing pings off the page when he’s describing those scenes and I found I wanted more. Instead of merely being the backdrop to the Harrow’s family conflicts, I wished we spent more time there with at least one viewpoint character.

I’m aware this book can also be read as an uncomfortable allegory about the way we’re all being led over a cliff regarding the environmental timebomb now ticking. If you replace the Harrows with the inept politicians around the world taken up with concerns that will shortly fade into the furniture once climate change really gets going – and the rest of us throughout the world in all its variety as the March, then it’s clear Polansky doesn’t hold out much hope for our current leadership ultimately saving humanity from the threat facing us.

This is an unusual read that required constant concentration due to the fractured narrative – and ultimately, I felt that it somehow missed being a fantastic book by a frustratingly narrow margin. Recommended for fans of portal fantasy adventures with a difference.
7/10

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I was already intrigued by the mysterious world of the March by 25% when sadly my ARC expired. This did take me a long time to get into (past the first 20% or so) because the whole "typical suburban family" thing didn't grab my interest, but I was hooked by the messy family relationships and the imaginative array of creatures that inhabited the March. I found the worldbuilding a little confusing but assume my questions will be cleared up later in the book. Constance was the most interesting character to me, and I'd continue reading just for her, but either way I hope to pick up the final version of this book ASAP and see where the story goes.

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Thanks so much to the publisher and to Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC copy of this book!

I have scheduled promotional posts around release day for this book and I will provide a full review on my Instagram once I am able to get to this read.

Rating 5 stars on Netgalley as a placeholder for me to update later once the review is complete.

Will also complete a review on Goodreads once read.

Thanks again!

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Keeping it in the family sounds like a wonderful idea. Surround yourself with people you can trust, blood is thicker than water, but do family businesses work? Why do so many fail by the third generation? The first generation build the company from nothing, the second grow it further, the third – squander all the money on fast cars and drugs? What if your family business is not just the local bakery, but the protectors of a magical land called the March. Daniel Polansky’s March’s End explores what good, and what damage, a family can have when they live normal lives by day and are leaders by night.

Members of the Harrow family are taught from an early age about the March. A magical land of mechanical beings, living toys, intelligent beehives and so much more. The stories become reality as the children get older and they realise that the March exists. At night, members of the Harrow family are transported to protect the land and it needs their protection as the End approaches once more. Can the dysfunctional Harrow family work together to save the March and stop it bleeding into our own world?

Fantasy often has a cast of messed up characters, it makes for entertaining intrigue and plenty of backstabbing, but few of them live up to the disfunction that are the Harrows. By this generation, the grown-up children really do not want to get involved in the March. The dutiful child stays, whist the other two have scattered across America, but when their mother becomes ill, the crown needs to be passed on and who would wear it the best?

The character development plays a significant role in End and each of the three children are all given plenty of space to show what they are made of. Constance, Mary Ann, and Will are all capable of taking over from their mother in their own way, but they are also deeply flawed. It is not helped that the destruction of the March and our own world is threatened.

The book truly is a family saga, strip out the fantasy elements and you have a barnstorming domestic drama, but the fantasy elements are also a key part. The versions of the Harrows in our world are different to those in the March. There they are cast as heroes, at least on the surface. This is a magical world full of extraordinary characters and creatures. Polansky opens their imagination and draws together so many elements. Touches of Alice in Wonderland and Narnia, filtered through the dark lens of Return to Oz and Labyrinth. I think in places there is too much happening as you are dealing with family drama and a cast of magical characters who often speak in riddles or verse. A touch less, or a story spread a little further, would make the experience even more mesmerising.

It was the Harrows of Earth which grabbed my attention the most. The various scrapes and tragedies are played out in flashbacks throughout the book. We discover so much about the three siblings that you start to realise that not all is at it seems. Visiting the March is fun, but also full on and bizarro, so many nations of diverse types of creatures, all inhabiting the same place. Most are not given the time to learn about them as much as we do the Harrow family. The book has an open ending with plenty more to see from both worlds. There are enough ideas on the page to trigger the imagination of any fantasy fan, and if you are looking for a messed-up family in a messed-up fantasy world, then March’s End will work for you.

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TL;DR

March’s End is Polansky at peak form; he’s a writer who improves with each book; and he’s a writer you should be reading. Highly Recommended

Disclaimer: The publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Any and all opinions that follow are mine alone.

Review: March's End by Daniel Polansky

Home authors are an automatic read for me, even if I don’t know what the book is about. Any work by Daniel Polansky will catch my attention. Ever since I read Low Town, I’ve tried to read Polansky’s work. Each time I pick up a book by him, I know it’ll be good. The Seventh Perfection was an outstanding novella in an imaginative world; The Builders was a gritty Western with animals for the main characters. March’s End by Daniel Polansky continues in that tradition. It features a wounded family seeking healing in duty while trying to save the fantastical world they rule.

Before getting to the review proper, I have to get it out of the way. March’s End by Daniel Polansky is a descendant of The Chronicles of Narnia. But it is much more than that. It’s more adult in that it deals in moral grays; things are complicated, complex, and much more interesting. It seems to me to be an homage to Narnia while also pointing out its flaws and shortcomings. While March’s End stands on its own, I kept coming back to the Narnia comparison. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a fantastic book, and March’s End is better.

The Harrows protect the March, a fantastical land that they travel to at night when they should be sleeping. At least, according to the Harrows, the protect the March. Some residents of that land disagree. In addition, the End, a mysterious force that seems to infect March residents, drives people from their homes toward the center, the Tower, which is the seat of the Harrow. Constance, Sophia’s oldest child, is the most responsible. She feels a duty to the March and to her family. Mary Ann, the middle child, is haunted by guilt and a drinking problem. John, poor, scarred John, is broken inside and out. Like all families, the three fight, hurt, and protect each other. But some fights just keep happening and may get pushed below the surface without resolution. As the three age, Constance stays near her parents while Mary Ann moves to Hollywood and John to New York City. The petty jealousies of childhood, amplified by the March, persist between the three even when Constance lets them know their mother is dying. With Sophia’s illness, Mary Ann and John begin to notice the borders between the real and the fantastical world are blurring. Can the three siblings reunite to save the March and possibly the real world as well?

March’s End by Daniel Polansky is a third person point of view novel mainly from the perspective of Sophia’s three kids: Mary Ann, John, and Constance. Though there plenty of chapters in which they’re adults as well. Polansky also gives readers some chapters from Sophia’s perspective. While these chapters were essential, they weren’t as effective as the kids. March’s End flits back and forth through time. It’s timeline is nonlinear, flashing back and forth, which was a little confusing, at first, but readers will adapt quickly. Once adjusted to the structure, reader’s won’t want to put the book down.

The March

The March is a neat place. Polansky fills it with imaginative creatures, some of whom make for fun characters. While describing the creatures of the March, Polansky taught me several new words, like xerophile. There are creatures that wear masks, and when they trade masks, they trade souls.

The March can be a little cutesy, like the Merrilings of Toyland. But it has a darker side as Constance learns when she and her father battle a monster from the depths. Overall, Polansky walks the line between creating an interesting realm and making it so neat that you skip all the non-March passages. While I wanted to explore the March, I wanted to explore it through the Harrow characters. Or, in other words, the setting is fantastic, but it doesn’t outshine the characters.

I’ve always wanted Polansky to write a sequel to The Builders. I think the March is as close as I’m likely to get. Also, if you haven’t, check out The Builders.

The Harrow Family

I loved and hated the Harrow family; so, Polansky hit the right notes on character creation. Each of them have such responsibility riding upon them as the ruling family of a land. Part of their childhood is dedicated to preparation to protect a land of fantastical creatures. They have a book that as children they have to memorize; it contains the various factions and peoples of the March. At night they visit the land with all its delights and its dangers. Despite it being a fantasy land, the dangers are quite real and injuries sustained in the March are permanent.

It’s hard to say which of the three I liked best. First it was a toss up between John and Mary Ann, but as the book progressed, Constance grew on me. Each of the three are flawed, conflicted, and uncertain. Sophia, their mother, had an iron will throughout the book. She was certain that what she was doing was the right thing for her family and for the March. That type of certainty is something I’ve learned to be wary of. If we don’t have the ability to ask ourselves if we’re wrong, then we don’t have the ability to ask how things can be better. After all, Sophia is certain that rule by the Harrow is good for the March. Those who disagree are simply rebels to her; she does not, even once, consider that they may have a point. But then colonizers always believe their rule benefits everyone whether it’s wanted or not. Sophia’s certainty didn’t sit right with me. But the kids, they questioned themselves, and I like that in the characters I read. We often dismiss that uncertainty in ourselves as a flaw. We think everyone else has it together, knows what they’re doing, or just has a better life than us. Of course, that’s not true. Everyone’s doing the best they can with the situation they were born into. We don’t know if any decision we make is the right one, and I like characters that feel the same. It allows them to exist in a morally gray area, but it also allows them to challenge themselves and grow, as the Harrow kids do. Whether for the better, I leave that up to you.

The Storytelling

March’s End by Daniel Polansky has a nonlinear timeline. Readers flit back and forth between the three Harrow kids’ childhood and adulthood. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s worth it. The timeline reveals bits and pieces of the story while relying on the reader to piece it together. Polansky tells the story smoothly enough that it’s not work, it’s an enjoyable puzzle.

Conclusion

Daniel Polansky’s March’s End is a wonderful family drama built against the background of a portal fantasy. The world, the characters, the story, all fit together to make a special novel. From Daniel Polansky, I would expect nothing less. Highly recommended.

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thank you to netgalley for the advanced reading copy of march's end by daniel polansky. this was a scifi mixed with mystery thriller. lots of secrets and guessing through the book. a pretty good read i feel as though parts were lacking on some of the pacing.

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3.5 upped to 4
There's a lot of potential in this story. It made me think about Alice in Wonderland more than Narnia as Narnia is more of the allegoric moral story and this one features grey and flawed characters.
It starts in a very strong way and you cannot help being fascinated by the the Harrows and their relationship with the March and the dysfunctional famliar relationships.
It works and it's a riveting read till something breaks in the mechanism and the storytelling is a bit confusing and I lost the threads.
I loved March and loved the characters but I felt that the special something that keeps you entrall was missing.
I think the author did an excellent job with the world building and this is one of those books that you should read again and I'm sure I would love it.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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March’s End is a standalone Narniaesque portal fantasy story for adults. The Harrow family have ruled, protected and defended the March for generations. Uniting it under one single rule. The March is a kingdom of a thousand people - animate toys, sentient lichen, giant snails, anthropomorphic bees, terrestrial nautili, savage wilderness, and so many others. At a certain age, all Harrows come to the March- and make their place in it.

The world of the March is both wonderous and fantastical. We glimpse all the different types of societies and creatures. The story jumps back and forth between timelines. All very easy enough to follow. The characters for the most part were okay but I never felt completely connected to all of them. The plot was both interesting and full of twists and turns. There are very obvious elusions to Portal fantasies before, both Lewis’s Narnia and Grossman’s Filory. Although Polansky’s creation stands alongside if not above both.

This is an enjoyable, and entertaining read. My thanks to both NetGalley and Angry Robot for an e-arc and an honest opinion.

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The Harrow family share a secret. For generations now, they have been the caretakers of a fantasy world known as the March. By day they go about normal, suburban lives, but when they sleep they become the rulers of the March, mixing politics and battle as they put down rebellions and keep the land together. But now it seems like an old danger is back, the biggest danger, the creeping End.

So far, so very Narnia or similar – and indeed, this is a portal fantasy for grown-ups, riffing on those tropes that we all know from childhood. I absolutely love that idea, that these ‘fantasies’ are masking some really dark stuff – and that’s sort of what we’re exploring here.

I say ‘sort of’ because my big criticism is how much this comes across as a ‘lit fic’ take on the fantasy genre. By that I mean it’s all grand ideas, but thinks it’s enough to hint, or to simply show a bit of clever thinking, without really doing much with it. I cannot stand so-called literary fiction for precisely these reasons, thinking it’s all artsy to leave the reader to do all the heavy lifting. Thankfully this isn’t quite that bad, but there are plenty of hints of it around the edges, and it annoyed me. I’m sure there’s an argument against having everything spelled out for you as a reader, but it just felt like somewhat unfinished threads.

Overall, there are some absolutely excellent ideas here, but not sure most of them ‘went’ anywhere. Everything cuts back and forward through time, following one generation of Harrows – Mary Ann, Constance, and John – during periods of their childhood through to a present day. This was the most interesting part for me, the family dynamic and the glimpses of how the now-adult Harrow children were affected by their childhood fantasy land. Indeed, I wasn’t particularly caught up in the March, which is so backwards for your usual portal fantasy! Still, we didn’t get anywhere near enough of either, for my liking.

Portal fantasies seem to be having something of a resurgence right now – hello, Wyrd & Wonder theme, excellently timed! 😉 (I literally just read a whole scene in another book that’s so clearly the wood between worlds from The Magician’s Nephew). It was interesting to compare this to And Put Away Childish Things, another portal fantasy released last month, that also looks at adult(s) dealing with childhood fantasy worlds. That, I think, was a lot more flippant and tried for humour – neither can be said of March’s End. It’s bleak, and I think that sort of misses the point of what most readers want from a portal (or any) fantasy – but not quite hitting enough meat of the ‘real world’ effects, either.

Still, it was an engaging enough read overall, and as I said – a lot of very good ideas. Didn’t quite ‘wow’ me, but as ever, your mileage may vary!

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Many reviews called this novel Narnia-esque, but I must disagree. It felt much more Wonderland-esque to me. The March is a weird place, "High Nonsense" if you know what I mean. There was a lot of really interesting stuff going on here. I love portal fantasy and I'm honestly never going to turn one down. This one was fun in that, yes, like Narnia, it was centered on a family who travels together back and forth and yet that family is broken.

I do wish that I'd been able to feel more oriented in the Wonderland-esque portions of the story. I am always down for just "being along for ride" in weird stories, but the "present day" part of the narrative was so clear and easy to follow that I felt disoriented when switching to the other timeline/setting. I can't help but assume this stylistic choice was an intentional one but I didn't really like it.

Overall, it's a 3.5 star read for me. I appreciate the chance taken with this narrative and there was a lot of good, despite the confusing.

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I usually love Polansky’s books, the gritty worlds and complex characters, but not this one. Partly it’s the unmet expectations when instead of a bleak secondary world I was presented with a modern world family idyl and odd old-fashioned narrative. Even the peculiar parallel world couldn’t save things. The characters were unlikeable and difficult to connect with and the story took much too long to become even a little interesting. In the end, I couldn’t finish it.

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would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this book

i have to admit to struggling with this one... i couldnt get my mind into it a very strange world....

though there were elements i wanted to keep reading but it was much a mish mash that i couldnt get through

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