Okay, so usually I try to write my own mini synopsis of the book, but explaining The Vorrh is way too hard so I’m going to take the blurb provided on Goodreads:
Bakelite robots lie broken – their hard shells cracked by human desire – and an inquisitive Cyclops waits for his keeper and guardian, growing in all directions. Beyond the colonial city of Essenwald lies the Vorrh, the forest which sucks souls and wipes minds. There, a writer heads out on a giddy mission to experience otherness, fallen angels observe humanity from afar, and two hunters – one carrying a bow carved from his lover, the other a charmed Lee-Enfield rifle – fight to the end. Thousands of miles away, famed photographer Eadweard Muybridge attempts to capture the ultimate truth, as rifle heiress Sarah Winchester erects a house to protect her from the spirits of her gun’s victims.
I don’t really know how to review this book. It’s a special one, for sure, but one I didn’t totally get. There are a load of different storylines, which was confusing and difficult to see how they all connected – like a whole bunch of voices all speaking at once – and I still don’t fully understand the entire premise of the story. For the first half of the book I didn’t know what was going on, but I powered through and WOW. Despite my lack of understanding, I was completely engrossed. I was able to start seeing connections between the individual plots and felt a real connection with some of the characters. By the last quarter, I couldn’t put it down.
Catling’s writing is so poetic and beautiful – a work of art more than just a story. Although that is in many ways a good thing, it also made the book more difficult to read. None of the phrasing was straightforward, and I had to concentrate quite hard to find the meaning behind the beauty.
I think really my main problem with The Vorrh was that it is so unbelievably stunning and creative (also with some very weird content) that I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. This is more a criticism of my own lack of imagination than Catling’s abilities as an author, and I would definitely recommend at least giving it a try. I get the feeling that this book will be very marmite: you will either love it, or hate it.
Many thanks to Coronet and Bookbridgr for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.