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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Tarquin The Honest - The Hand of Glodd by Gareth Ward

Hailing from UK, Gareth Ward brings a magic, quite literally, to all that he does. He operates two book stores in Hawkes Bay and is, along with being a wonderful YA writer, a hypnotist, a storyteller and - as mentioned - a magician. The sleight of hand style of a magician certainly comes in handy in this novel as Ward uses all kids of tricks to push the narrative along with misdirections and red herrings left, right, and centre.

Reading Gareth Ward is a little like stepping into an alternate universe. His language is visceral and his concepts are relatable, yet he has this incredible way with characterisation that just leaves you wanting more. A steampunk king, he pulls on the strings attached to being a well known figure in the bookseller world and his immense knowledge of texts local and international. Yes, The Great Wardini pulls out all the stops as he brings his first adult novel to the masses.

Tarquin The Honest has the playful energy of the YA fiction, but definitely has the depth required to make the transition into adult literature. The protagonist, Tarquin, has a sarcastic witticism and an adventurous spirit that is contagious to a band of unlikely peers. But he needs to battle himself along the way. The first person narrative definitely adds to the thought process of Tarquin and we, as readers, are just along for the ride.

Perhaps the main appeal of the novel is the self indulgent nature of Tarquin. He is outwardly deceitful and full of self grandeur to rival any political figure you wish you compare him with. In fact, there may well be a bit of a politician in him!

While it is an adult book, it definitely still has the feel of a YA fiction text, and perhaps in this it becomes a little undone. The themes are great, and the concepts are strong, but at times it felt a little more like it wanted to be a YA text more than the mature offering that Ward seems to be hoping for. As the plot progressed I found myself wanting a little more YA and a little less adult-y stuff. The language and some of the content clearly fixes it into the adult category, but that’s about it.

As with his previous offerings, he shows his strength with the construction of believable and logical dialogue. It never feels forced, but instead shows the inner workings of the characters - even though it is a first person, the other characters have their unique and fascinating personalities shining through.

For those lovers of role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, it will be easy to love this adventure. Loved the character of Lunar, Tarquin’s sidekick. Never too far away from a laugh whenever Lunar is around, and certainly that element of friendship really assists with the story telling.

Highly recommended for a great read.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Bateman Books


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