Review: 'Spark and Carousel' by Joanne Hall

I like writers who stage several stories in the same universe. Raymond E Feist, Joe Abercrombie, and Iain M Banks come instantly to mind, and now I add Joanne Hall to that list.

Some people say it is lazy, but I disagree. It takes a lot of effort to create a universe, and I think using it more than once gives the whole world-concept, and the stories from it, more depth. 

If it is done properly.

Like those mentioned in the first paragraph, Joanne Hall can now firmly lay claim to ‘doing it right’. Her stories are separate enough that they don’t crowd each other, or feel too familiar, but still have a sense of belonging to them. A glimmer of ‘I remember that place’, or name, or pseudo-legal recreational narcotic. It’s a neat trick.

Another strength I see in all Joanne Hall’s books is that she has a knack for making her readers think; not in any way that disrupts the flow of the story, but with stuff that comes back to nudge you after you put the book down. Joanne has managed this in all her books, and ‘Spark & Carousel’ is no exception.

‘Spark’ is a young apprentice who is forced to kill his master, and has to come to terms with this, the misunderstanding of his master’s peers, and his inability to control his power. Carousel is a young woman, a circus performer, living and working in the criminal underground, looking forward to a new life and a new job, only to find being a whore wasn’t as glamorous as she expected.

The stories builds deliberately, weaving threads together until all Hell breaks loose and the reader is thrown into a maelstrom of action and revelation.

I very much devoured this, rather than just read it, and highly recommend it to lovers of fantasy fiction. Available from all the usual outlets.

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