Kneel Downe – Amelia’s Song
I first came across the author Kneel Downe about a year ago. Bored with reading the same old adventures in the same old books, I had branched out into a new kind of fiction for my daily book buzz and had been recommended to try Kneel’s first book, VIRULENTBLURB:FRACTURES by a friend who had been following the strange 140 character bites of story on Twitter. I immediately became a fan and have waited a long, long 12 months for the next book release from this multi-faceted universe created by Mr Downe.
So, arriving on my doorstep this week, was Amelia’s Song – A Virulent Fable by Kneel Downe (a gracious nod at this point to Susan Omand, fantastic illustrations!) This was especially pleasing as illustrated books outside of the children’s market, have become a dying breed and, when its done right, when an artist really soaks in the world the author has intelligently designed, it adds something to the narrative. Well, on this occasion, it is done very right.
The foreword to the book, Of Introductions and Explanations, is an incredible insight into the working mind of a writer as they develop the original glimpse of an idea and what they go through to bring that image alive in words. There may be people that struggle with the style of Mr Downe’s writing, but I found it to be essential reading, it certainly set up the few hours of enjoyment perfectly.
From the first line When Amelia was a little boy she found the Moon’s eyes in a thicket of thorns… To Amelia caught a Void Fish in a delicately painted jar…she keeps it in her mouth to hear its songs… You are under no illusions as to the style of the piece. It is a wonderfully original way to tell a story. There are those that want their literature non taxing, and I don’t blame them; sometimes authors make their work heavy going, but this? This is something old, and yet new. A drugged up Bowie lyric told by Shakespeare, a punk dining with Dickens type, old and new.
Amelia’s Song tells the story of a young flame-haired girl in a land of Knights and Chaos Lords, but it is more than that. I have read the first book, the aforementioned FRACTURES, and seen for myself how Mr Downe spins world upon world, character upon character and, whilst Amelia’s Song is a standalone tale, a fantasy/sci-fi nod to Lewis Carroll, it also brings a lot of the FRACTURES soundbites together and, I am sure, in future publications Mr Downe will cleverly piece all the worlds and time-lines together.
The artwork by Scottish illustrator Susan Omand is also fresh and old at the same time. Gone are the computer generated cartoons that most illustrated books are awash with, and these are in pencil. Good old fashioned pencil. The scene of all the knights sat in their chamber is a particular favorite, but softer, more emotional sketches like birds crying, bring the levels of Mr Downe’s writing up to a level rarely achieved in fiction nowadays.
Bravo Sir! I say Bravo
**** 4 1/2 STARS