First up a couple of disclaimers, this review is based off an ARC provided to me to review the book, so I won’t be picking holes in the layout or editing here. And it was free so feel free to take whatever I say with a pinch of salt.
Also I’m good friends with one of the writers, they know who they are, and fleetingly thoughts about writing for the anthology as well, so again take me thoughts with however my salt you’d like.
Personally I found it a hard book to read, not a bad book but due to it’s structure I found it at times hard going. To understand why it took me a week to read it you need to understand what you have before you. The original plan was quite simple, a collection of short stories that each featured the Iconic British Red Phone Box. Now being a child of the 70′s I have fond memories of these impressive pieces of British engineering, including a memorable party when I was very young were there was one in the back garden. The fact that a few of them remain, much like the blue police boxes you see dotted about selling coffee, gives me a little burst of nostalgia. But back to the book, a short story collection featuring a phone box. Except, and this is what I understand from conversations I’ve had and the foreword to the book itself, the plan changed. A number of the initial stories had a modern day magical fantasy theme. The box wasn’t just a place for tramps to relive themselves, though it is mentioned a couple of times, but something more, something that changed things.
And so more stories were written, to tie together the disparate threads into a plot, some editing was done, names changed, references made to events in other stories. And this is where my, small and puny, brain got confused. If this was just a collection of short stories is would be fine. Many of them are brilliant and all of them tell a tale well in their limited space, a skill that I’m always a fan of. But there is also the meta plot, that you can see the initial threads of at the beginning, threads that shine brighter and brighter as you progress. Threads that make it that little bit harder to read the book because you always have one eye looking back, trying to tie things together.
Or at least I did. There will now be a dramatis personae included in the book which I received later and I think it’ll be helpful, and next time I read it I’m sure I’ll find it so.
I think that’s possibly my best comment about the book, I will be reading it again and I’ll be keeping an eye out for the sequql that is mentioned at the end. Yes it took me some time to read, but that’s not a bad thing all told.
The book is coming out in November and I’ll post some more thought about it then.