A Time of Torment comes out this Thursday, you can see my review HERE but the book is as always entirely brilliant. Under the gentle chiding of the lovely Kerry at Hodder I’ve been persuaded to take a little readers journey through the Charlie Parker series, looking at various aspects and I’ve really enjoyed doing it and I hope you enjoy reading it. Today I’m talking mythology – as the week goes on some very lovely blogger friends of mine are hosting other articles so I hope you enjoy those too.
Creating a world – Building the mythology
John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series started out in original observation as fairly standard crime fiction. Anyone that has been in this world since the beginning however, knows that the “Crime fiction” tag ends up being a loose one at best, this series has a brilliantly imagined mythology full of layer and depth that builds slowly but surely with every new novel.
When we first meet Charlie in “Every Dead Thing” he is haunted by his dead wife and child – but whether this is literally or figuratively is not clear. Watching the events of that very first book pan out, as a reader you come to understand that there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. A world beneath a world, the main protagonist does not understand where he fits any more than we do. And so it begins…
Over the course of the now 14 books, the darkness inside the outer core builds, becoming often more obscure but always more intriguing. It becomes clear that Charlie is important somehow above and beyond himself, the feeling the books give is that of a build up to an unknown crescendo – the end when it comes is bound to be explosive.
With each new case Charlie and his companions get drawn further and further into the maelstrom, the villains are villainous beyond just being killers, they come from something other – They are as drawn to Charlie as he is to them, there is something else at work here and it is endlessly fascinating. My feeling as a reader is that Charlie could be a savior for the world but could just as easily be the destroyer of it. Right there is the hook that keeps you reading, even the quieter moments within each story ripple with menace and something coming that you can’t quite see.
Whilst every book in the series adds to the whole there are some key novels that bring the world building into sharp focus. “Black Angel” takes us out of the comfort zone, hitting hard not just in its storyline but in what it tells us about the realities of Charlie’s world – right here is where you know for sure that he is in for a battle, one that may not be winnable. With “The Lovers” comes the understanding that all of this has its roots somewhere way back, before Charlie, before he steps into the mix.
Whilst “The Lovers” takes us back, the more recent novels move us forward. A life changing event for Charlie and the start of some extraordinarily clever foreshadowing, an important focus is now being given to Charlie’s children. His daughters, one living, one dead are moving to the forefront, becoming far more important to the full picture and creating yet another layer to this already rich and imaginative mythology. Perhaps the destroyer or savior of worlds is to be found elsewhere. Mr Connolly is not saying just yet. But with beautiful language, incredible atmosphere and the true genius of creativity he is going to keep us hanging on every word.
As for “A Time of Torment” well. Sometimes words are not enough.