Review of ‘The Scroll of Years’ by Chris Willrich


I pursued this book high and low and finally fettled a copy with the depressing word ‘discard’ on the back. Thereafter I have taken ages to read it, in the same way that one tries to make a particularly delicious ice cream last.

This is the first full length novel about Willrich’s delightful pair of characters Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone. I first met them in short story form and was bowled over by them and their adventures. Hence my quest, when I discovered they existed at longer length. They make guest appearances in various SF and fantasy magazines over more than a decade, so I am hoping that Willrich collects all their adventures together at some point.

What is so great about these characters? Well, obviously, it is what Willrich has made of them. They inhabit a world (at times, worlds) which Willrich has teased out of our Far East, but with subtle differences and shifts which mean that just when you think you have a handle on the what, where, why, when, how and who of it, the whole thing gives a shake like a wet dog and you end up in a different ambience altogether. There are dragons (I love dragons) and then again, perhaps they aren’t dragons. There is magic, and belief systems that one wishes really existed, and true love and honour, and extraordinary feats of physical daring and strength, and immortality and death, and a scroll into which one may enter and live. It is the scroll that provides the heart of the book. Gaunt dives into the scroll when in extreme peril. But a scroll is, itself, a fragile artefact – will it survive?

Willrich’s plotting is delightful. But it is his turn of phrase which never flags. He constantly draws in allusions and permits himself excursions around his own plot which, nevertheless, do not slow pace nor obfuscate the plot. This is clever work. The result is thought-provoking as well as a rollicking good fantasy story. Here is a short extract, taken at complete random, to show what I mean. Any page would give as good an example:

“’Is this place a sort of dream?” Gaunt asked. “Or am I truly in another universe?”

He laughed. “Every place is a sort of dream. But more to your point, this place is normal.”

Now Gaunt laughed. “Having arrived via art appreciation, I question that view.”’

‘About the author’ assures the reader that Willrich is now writing full time. I should jolly well hope so. I am awaiting your next novel with breath bated, Mr Willrich …



Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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