Review: The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams


“Perhaps. And perhaps these multiple universes explain why it seems that this universe–the only one that this version of me can see–is altogether unlikely. There has to be one such universe out there somewhere; I just happen to be in it.”

That quote comes near the end of the book, but deftly explains my core feelings about it. When fantasy reaches it’s extremes, you get the grotesque or the beautiful, or in the case of The Crooked Letter a rather intense amalgamation of the two. At that point it’s dangerous to explain too much if you have a scientifically minded person like myself reading. Sean Williams manages to twist reality beyond its breaking point and then calmly explain it so that it makes a beautiful sense.

Our point of view characters in this book are 2 “mirror twins.” When they are separated by death their parallel paths through different realms provide a canvas primed for playing with deep questions about the severely fantastical turns the world is taking. The second realm, where we follow Seth isn’t the underworld demons and torment, but that underworld is used as an axis of symmetry to project an existence that reweights the importance of the will and the physical. And like anything defined by such a chaotic boundary it’s no surprise that there are realms beyond these 2 or that there are beings invading from somewhere outside of any of these realms or, as the quote above suggests, that this chaotic reality isn’t just one universe in an infinite collection. We as the reader just find ourselves in a universe where the laws seem to make sense.

The paths we follow through both of these realms is filled with wonders and revelations, power and betrayal, gods and demons, fast cars and minotaurs all viewed through the eyes of 2 very human young men with the associated emotions, doubt and potential heroism. Sean Williams draws from a very wide set of myths and constructs a rich world that is ripe for further exploration. The Crooked Letter starts the series “The Books of the Cataclysm,” but also manages to establish the world in which the earlier trilogy “The Books of the Change” is set. It’s great book for Pyr to be offering as a free eBook, as it’s absolutely drawn me into this world and I’ll be tracking down at least 6 more books.

The Books of the Change:

The Books of the Cataclysm:

~ by mentatjack on March 21, 2009.

4 Responses to “Review: The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams”

  1. […] with much the same feeling at the end of Norse Code that I had at the end of Sean William’s The Crooked Letter … An apocalypse in the the world we recognize as ours results in the world we recognize as […]

  2. […] Stanley Robinson trilogy. I quite enjoyed the creation of a new reality in the apocalyptic fantasy The Crooked Letter. Spin takes this to new heights and just as the structure of the narrative suggests the premise of […]

  3. […] make you think every time you pick up certain everyday use articles!! Steven Klotz @ MentatJack: The Crooked Letter There are books I’ve enjoyed more overall, but as for endings, this one really latched […]

  4. […] promote novel series by giving the first book away for free (or in the case of orbit, $1). I read my first Sean Williams and Karl Schroder due to these promotions and they will both definitely get my patronage in the […]

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