The Dying Days

by Shannon Patrick Sullivan

Creative Book Publishing, 2006

No, not the one by Lance Parkin. "The Dying Days" is the debut novel by Canadian novelist Shannon Patrick Sullivan (extracts available online). If the name seems familiar, he's the guy behind the Dr Who website A Brief History of Time and he used to run the Dr Who Novel Rankings. So he knows very well that the title has been used before; in fact, Lance Parkin gave advice on the book and is thanked copiously in the afterword.

Sullivan's "The Dying Days" has no connection to Dr Who. This is a standalone novel set in present day Newfoundland in which a secret, fantastical world exists in parallel with our own. It's a familiar idea and, at times, "The Dying Days" treads familiar ground. It's a pacey tale but the plot is predictable, some of the early scenes are too. However, I think three things lift "The Dying Days" above average. First, there's Sullivan's prose which is that bit more witty. He reminds me just slightly of Dirk Gently-era Douglas Adams. Secondly, about a quarter of the way through, the ideas start getting much more original, the twists of the plot and the characters more interesting. Thirdly, Sullivan paints a rich background to his characters and his world, yet things that seem like throwaway jokes turn out to be surprisingly important.

Henry Potts, 5 Nov 2006

Originally posted to the Jade Pagoda mailing list.

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