Under the Harrow

Mark Dunn, MacAdam/Cage, $24 (350p) ISBN 978-1-59692-369-0
Dingley Dell is a self-contained valley peopled by orphans, whose guardians abandoned them with only an encyclopedia and the works of Charles Dickens. From these beginnings comes a Victorian society whose limited trade with outsiders raises more question than it answers. Those who leave rarely return or are considered mad. The beginning drags a bit as the residents try to figure out what the reader already knows, but the tide turns and comes in fast once a runaway returns to the valley. Scribe-for-hire Trimmers and his friends, amateur sleuths disguised as a poetry society, discover that their strange world will come to a quick and bloody end unless they act. This sometimes perplexing but well-executed tale winds up feeling like a surprisingly hardy crossbreed of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and Eric Flint's 1632. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/18/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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