The Waking Engine by David Edison
Published by Macmillan on 2014-02-11
Welcome to the City Unspoken, where Gods and Mortals come to die.Contrary to popular wisdom, death is not the end, nor is it a passage to some transcendent afterlife. Those who die merely awake as themselves on one of a million worlds, where they are fated to live until they die again, and wake up somewhere new. All are born only once, but die many times . . . until they come at last to the City Unspoken, where the gateway to True Death can be found.Wayfarers and pilgrims are drawn to the City, which is home to murderous aristocrats, disguised gods and goddesses, a sadistic faerie princess, immortal prostitutes and queens, a captive angel, gangs of feral Death Boys and Charnel Girls . . . and one very confused New Yorker.Late of Manhattan, Cooper finds himself in a City that is not what it once was. The gateway to True Death is failing, so that the City is becoming overrun by the Dying, who clot its byzantine streets and alleys . . . and a spreading madness threatens to engulf the entire metaverse.Richly imaginative, David Edison's The Waking Engine is a stunning debut by a major new talent.
After reading The Waking Engine by David Edison, I’ve decided Edison is an absolute artist with words. I love his descriptions that eloquently describe haunting images. This is what drew me into the book. What surprised me as I read further, is that there is a touch more strangeness and over-the-topness to the characters and world than I initially expected. It made me feel like I was reading a dark literary comic book featuring the fae. If that even makes sense. And that’s not at all a bad thing, it was just unexpected. Unexpected can be quite good.
It is also one of those books that just refuses to go into a box, or be clearly defined in terms of genre. If pressed, I’ll say Science Fiction, because it clearly is Science Fiction. But at the same time, there are a good number of fantasy elements as well. Ultimately, I don’t think it matters, what matters is they story, if it’s enjoyable or not. A book is meant to be read, not put into a box and it’s nice to see the blend of characteristics in this.
Edison’s world is strange, and twisted. Death offers no finality and some are bound to their bodies to live over and over, meaning every time they die, they return to the same body, in the same place. Because of the unique world and inability to truly die, there is the ability to fulfill desires that are darker and more sinister. People sell their bodies for murder much as prostitutes sell their bodies for sex. There are children who never age, maintain the physical stature they had for their original death. But these children have lived many lives, died many times and are lacking the innocence and wonder that a true child of their age would have.
My main complaint about this book is the characters. Somehow I never felt quite as connected to them as I should. And sometimes, their actions would baffle me and just feel false or forced or random. I suspect this is because I didn’t quite get a good feel for characters. But, don’t take this as a strong negative by any means, it is something that might bother some readers and won’t be noticed by others. The writing, the mystery of the world and trying to figure out what is going on kept me reading.
So, if you are in the mood for a very different Science Fiction read, then yes, pick this one up and try it out. And in the future, I feel Edison is definitely an author to watch because he has such a way with words and imagery.
The Waking Engine will be released February 11, 2014. Many thanks to Tor Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.