And Put Away Childish Things
by Adrian Tchaikovsky
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Pub Date 28 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 21 Mar 2023
All roads lead to Underhill, where it’s always winter, and never nice.
Harry Bodie has a famous grandmother, who wrote beloved children’s books set in the delightful world of Underhill. Harry himself is a failing kids’ TV presenter whose every attempt to advance his career ends in self-sabotage. His family history seems to be nothing but an impediment.
An impediment... or worse. What if Underhill is real? What if it has been waiting decades for a promised child to visit? What if it isn’t delightful at all? And what if its denizens have run out of patience and are taking matters into their own hands?
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There's not much finer than an Adrian Tchaikovsky novel, and this title is unsurpassingly adorable. That trademark subtle humour, which sneaks up on little cat paws so that I often found myself chuckling aloud even before my conscious mind caught the point, the character depths and revelations and [applause] the character evolution; other characters coming to terms with their "lives" [you'll understand the quotation marks as you read the story]; and Mr. Tchaikovsky's presentation of the travails of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Especially touching was the delicate uncovering of government flailing in the face of rampant biology and the helplessness of law enforcement, social services, government, medicine, to address the issues of quarantine and social distance and prevention and cure.
But AND PUT AWAY CHILDISH THINGS doesn't stop at that. Not just the story of a failing actor turned feckless (and helpless Hero, this story is about recovering childhood, memory, lineage; about thought and creation, and the persistence of selfish evil. Definitely a rereader and rereader is this special story.
Sometimes a wardrobe is just a wardrobe. Sometimes books are just books. But sometimes they aren't.
Harry Bodie's life has turned into a joke. His actinga nd media career is in shambles, and he consoles himself with alcohol. But, for bizarre reasons, weird types are trying to get hold of him.
Harry's grandmother has written beloved children's books set in the sunny world of Underhill. For Harry, it's just a sporadic source of income through royalties. For some, however, Underhill is serious business.
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Its inhabitants, for example, are deadly serious about it. And not happy with their current state. The world of Underhill looks nothing like the one in Grandma's books - it's decaying and everything there, including the fantastic creatures, is coming apart. Will Harry's presence be enough to restore it to its glorious blooming state?
In And Put Away Childish Things, Tchaikovsky deconstructs middle-grade stories and makes things nightmarish. Harry is a disillusioned Kid's TV presenter unable to start serious acting. He has no agency or charisma, and that makes his reaction to all the craziness even more compelling. He simply can't understand what did he do to earn this clusterfuck.
Underhill and its creatures were created for the bold child to have adventures there but the child never came. Everything there decayed, including dreams and hopes of Underhill's citizens. I don't want to spoil too much, but there's a Faun, a giant spider able to travel between worlds, giant clown, and more.
The writing is clear, concise, and to the point. I appreciate it.
And Put Away Childish Things is a fine example of Adrian Tchaikovsky's writing skills and versatility. It combines middle-grade tropes, horror, humor, and excellent twists. It's impressive how much he packed in around 200 pages.
Thank you, Rebellion & Solaris and NetGalley, for the opportunity to read this advanced copy.
I have enjoyed most books that have been written by Adrian Tchaikovsky. In fact, off the top of my head, I cannot think of any novel or novella that I have disliked. But And Put Away Childish Things is the first that has come mighty close. Only close mind you, falls short of actually being disliked.
Maybe one of the reasons that this gave off the odd negative vibe is the main protagonist. I do not think Harry Brodie is one of the writer's better creations. A miserable, bad-tempered, nasty individual who was destined for cruel and hurtful things to befall him. From the very onset, he was immediately unlikeable, so if that was the writer's intent, it probably worked to his satisfaction.
The intolerable and constant whinging and whining generated by Harry got right up your nose from the very off. And it comes as a surprise when he turns out to be the good guy in the narrative if good is the operative word here. Also, Harry was too fond of using the F-word, which was usually unnecessary.
Harry is disillusioned with his job, life and the universe in general. And now he finds he has to carry the extra weight of being an heir apparent to the throne of Underhill. Not that he has much idea that Underhill does exist, or at least pleads ignorance to the highest degree.
You may have to break out the dictionary at a few points whilst reading the book, but it is something that we come to expect from the author. Not that I minded, education is always a good thing.
There are some spectacular characters to be found within the narrative. The faun Timon is the first we meet and seemingly the most tormented and likeable for that reason alone. There are others, including the dimension-travelling spider Smackersnack, the Wish Dog, Gombles the clown and Hulder the Tree Maid.
The characters from the Underhill books are not exactly how Harry pictured them when he encounters them in the flesh, for want of a better word. Harry manages to get himself an ally in the form of the folklorist Dr Rebecca Seitchman. She follows him on his quest to try and repair the damage to Underhill as they bite off more than they can chew.
There are small snippets from the original Underhill books at the end of each chapter. I assume these are to give the reader a brief glimpse to what the land should have been like. Written with the Covid pandemic as a backdrop, it will no doubt be a reminder to those who wish to re-read the novel.
Apart from being a bit anti-Harry, I cannot fault the book for its uniqueness and sheer creativity. The book is dark, and in places it has colourful overtones. Imaginative, inventive and intense And Put Away Childish Things ticks all the boxes for a classic Adrian Tchaikovsky Novella.
If I had any doubts that And Put Away Childish Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky would be anything other than superb was soon put away. The book is a terrific read from start to finish and written by someone clearly at the top of their game.
I truly don't know how Adrian Tchaikovsky is able to put out SO MANY books a year and have them all be so good. This strange, dark take on Narnia and alternate worlds and wicked witches is not only as brilliantly imaginative as all his books, it is also very funny.
I always enjoy reading books from Adrian Tchaikovsky, and this was another great entry in the scifi genre. I loved the failing actor becoming a hero and it worked in the story. I was invested in what was going on and getting to know the characters in this world. I was hooked from the first page and glad I got to read this. I can't wait to read more from Adrian Tchaikovsky.
"He’ll find us, of course,” Timon said mournfully. “Like I say, everything will find you eventually. But hopefully he’ll
have to hunt around first.”“I thought he’d be right on our trail. That was always his thing, wasn’t it? Best dog in the world?”
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