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The Wooden Sea
Jonathan Carroll
Gollancz paperback £6.99

review by Debbie Moon

Small town Chief of Police Frannie McCabe has seen a few things in his time. Done a few things he shouldn't, back in his wild youth, too. But suddenly that wild youth is standing right in front of him, in the form of his 17-year-old self - and telling him that the destiny of the entire universe rests on what he does over the next seven days. Oh, and on a dead dog, a feather, and a billionaire from the future. And then there are the aliens...
   Frannie has been cropping up in Carroll's fiction for a while now, perpetually on the edge of mind-bending events. Now he finally gets to take centre stage, in what's arguably Carroll's most ambitious book yet. The meaning of life itself is being unravelled in Crane's View, a fantastical puzzle whose clues are hidden among dreams, delusions, and the minutiae of small town existence.
   This is a book to be experienced rather than fully understood; sweeping the reader along on the same tidal wave of meanings and possibilities that engulfs Frannie. Yet despite the complexities of time travel and tangled loyalties, Carroll's all-too-human characters captivate us, in all their frailty and passion. The Wooden Sea is a gripping, often shocking read, from one of the masters of contemporary fantasy. Essential reading.
The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll
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