Tourmaline by James Brogden reviewed

tourmalineTourmaline by James Brogden. Snow Books (£7.99)

Reviewed by Jan Edwards

This book, published last year, is about realities, alternate realities, altered realities, imagined and projected realities. Of multiple personalities and ever-changing perceptions. Ultimately, it’s about how nothing ever changes in essence. We are what we are, whether we like or recognise that fact, or not.

Set between the streets and universities of Birmingham, where perving security guards not only get their come-uppance but find a man living inside his dream in Tourmaline; a watery alternate world something akin to the Sargasso Sea. Tourmaline is a realm of steampunkish fantasy lands where our fallen hero’s nemesis is a ferocious pseudo-Victorian, piratical, lady scientist wielding a weapon that can fix and destroy nightmarish dreams that bleed into reality. Or is she? Nothing and nobody can ever be taken at face value in this tale of split, mixed and stolen identities.

Tourmaline is a complex novel with complex characters; it questions perceptions at every turn. A book inspired by the psychology of coma, sleep and existence; about the divide between reality and dream, sanity and insensibility. Almost every character has at least two personalities, rather, dual realities; a few have even more. All seem linked to the mysterious woman Vessa/Sophie who wakes and sleeps in both worlds…

The cover declares: “Tourmaline is a place of wonder and grotesquerie which exists on the other side of our dreams. In our sleep, we sail and walk the streets of its cities like phantoms.”

To attempt to explain Tourmaline further, beyond the above, would take as long as the story itself. So do yourself a huge favour and just read the book; you will not be sorry. It is one of those novels that challenges at every page but still leads you ever onward, in wonder and, yes, occasional confusion, to its dramatic conclusion.

Well worth the reading.

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