I would like to extend my thanks to the author Owen W Knight for offering me a copy of his novel Another Life. It still always fills me with joy when someone reaches out and offers me their work to review. So my sincere thanks to you for sending me a copy to read.
Imagine... if we could combine dreams and reality in a world where we live forever. Oliver believes his life to be one of disappointment and failure. Haunted by the memory of a mysterious woman he encountered thirty years ago, and obsessed with finding her, he embarks on a strange journey of grief, hope, myths and legends where dreams and truth merge.
This was a very unusual story and very different to books I have read in the past. It has certainly left an impact on me and has left me mulling over lots of questions and topics that the tale raised. It looked at the themes of hope, grief, despair and disappointment in such a haunting way. Infiltrating these notions into pagan tradition and scientific discovery, It was an extremely clever story.
"Wise toad tell me this... what are the secrets I must learn to gain entry to this hidden world?"
Boy are there some secrets in this story! I feel like I learnt so much reading this, information about pagan beliefs and traditions, the science of cryogenics and the history of The Green Man which was really interesting. Some times I felt a little overwhelmed with the depth of description within the story and I struggled to take in everything that was being described, however this did not detract too much from my overall enjoyment of the tale, it is certainly not a book you can read at high speed, it takes concentration to really take in all of the information but is worth the effort. There are some trigger warnings within the text, that of suicude and the loss of a child, but they are dealt with sensitively.
It tells the story of Oliver who narrates throughout, we learn that he believes he has made many mistakes in life and that he feels he could have done better, or helped people more. Throughout his narration there is a sense of sadness, disappointment and loneliness which is written beautifully. Reading the blurb I expected a much more light hearted tale, I can see why it has been compared to 'Its a wonderful life' however this is a much more complex and detailed story. It is a slow burner and I found it a little tricky to become fully absorbed in the story as there was so much description and I found I really had to concentrate on it. However once I got into the flow and the mystery started to unravel I saw the beauty in the prose and enjoyed the authors lyrical descriptions. The nine gardens at Hefenwick Hall were just magical and I felt I could see them all In finite detail. I applaud the detail in those chapters, it all kept me hooked wanting to know what scenes were coming next. I found the last few parts of the story much easier to navigate than the first two parts.
As we read the story and learn more about Oliver we begin to see why he is so intent on finding the mysterious woman he waved at 30 years ago. Little hints and clues are given throughout the narrative, leading to a slow reveal, small seeds were planted and we see how that experience has in fact been woven, unwittingly, throughout his life until the current day. It was fascinating watching the story travel in this way.
There was a fabulous twist at the end which I won't discuss but it was gorgeously written. I recommend this for lovers of mystery, mythology and science as all bases are covered here.
Have you read this novel? Does it sound like something you might like to try? Let me know in the comments!