A present from one of my sisters-in-law this Xmas appeared in the form of Kraken, a book about a cult who worship a giant squid. Naturally, being a bit weird myself, it sounded like exactly my sort of thing. Besides which, I live in Brighton, home of the Cthulhu Rising Coven. And I spend a lot of time by the sea. 

Needless to say, I liked the sound of Kraken. I was up for some fantasy for a change from my normal crime novels and non-fiction books, and I’d decided I was Definitely Going To Like It. 

Which I did. But it was… strange. OK, OK, that’s what you’d expect from a book about squid-worshipers, yes. 

More after the jump
I’m a fussy reader, though. A “grammar Nazi”, as they say, and certainly pretty stringent on things like sentence structure and correct placement of apostrophes. One of the criteria I use to judge a book is how early I notice a grammatical mistake. Yes, I am that much of a pedant. On average, the first error usually appears somewhere around page 170-200, when the proofreader is getting tired, and there are two or three errors throughout the rest of the book. 

The first error in this one appeared on page 9, and was quite a high school error: “it’s” instead of “its”. I know this won’t make a difference to many people’s reading experiences, but it does to mine. The sentence structure throughout the novel was a bit fuzzy (not that I’m great at constructing sentences myself, but I’m not a published novelist. Yet.), and sometimes I had to read something two or three times before saying “Oohhhh. I understand now.” 

Having said that, the book itself was pretty gripping. I wanted to know what would happen, I cared moderately about the protagonist, and I appreciated the author’s willingness to kill off sympathetic characters. 

It was all a bit unrealistic, though. I mean, I know you have to expect that from fantasy, but I do like mine to stick within the laws of nature, at least roughly. Or if not, to be potentially explicable by some kind of one-off exception to the laws of physics, rather than being totally unlikely. 

I liked the inclusion of the sea as a living being. It’s the kind of thing I do when I’m standing staring at it with Husband: “Ooo, look, the sea’s feeling playful tonight.” This annoys him, I think. He’s more of a realist than me, sometimes. 

I liked the very genuine feeling of the main character being unable to trust anyone, and everyone seeming to give him double-messages. I liked the uncertainty, the grittiness, and the general feel of much of the book; I just thought it could do with being a bit more… realistic.  

All in all, worth a read if you like fantasy. Or if you’re particularly into squids. 

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