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Dark Cities Underground

by Lisa Goldstein
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • Publishing date: 07/07/2000
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780312868277
  • ISBN: 0312868278

Synopsis

Ruth Berry wants to be the first reporter in years to interview reclusive Jeremy Jones, the son of famed author E.A. Jones and the hero of her classic children's fantasy books. Jeremy does not want to discuss his childhood; he has forgotten it, he has changed his name to Jerry, and he has not spoken to his mother in many years. But he finds his memories returning when strange events seem to indicate that the Adventures of Jeremy in Neverwas weren't fantasy. He, Ruth, and Ruth's daughter Gilly sink ever deeper into a terrifying underworld, pursued by the villainous Barnaby Sattermole, by Sattermole's monomaniacal archenemy Sneath, and by the relentless Shadow Committee, a secret conspiracy at least as old as human history.

In Dark Cities Underground, American Book Award winner Lisa Goldstein reveals and explores the connections among the worlds of Narnia and Never-Never Land, the Wind in the Willows and Wonderland, myth and legend. But don't read Dark Cities Underground as an escapist secondary-world adventure; that will lead to disappointment, because this novel is about the nature and meaning of otherworlds, and not about disappearing into them. This fine modern fantasy is also about archetypes, childhood, growing up, loyalty, immortality, death, and love. --Cynthia Ward


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  • A memorable pastiche of urban fantasy, Egyptian mythology, kiddie lit, and more
    From Amazon

    What if we had it all backwards about children's books? What if authors like A. A. Milne and Lewis Carroll hadn't thought up the stories that made them famous, but were simply reporting (with some adjustments) what the children in their lives (Christopher Robin, Alice Liddell, etc.) had told them about real life fantastic experiences? This is the central conceit of Lisa Goldstein's DARK CITIES UNDERGROUND, which brings together kiddie lit, urban fantasy, Egyptian mythology, and more. The good: Goldstein reveals the details of the hidden world over the first four-fifths of the book, keeping a reasonable pace while sustaining compelling mysteries. Her weaving together of folkloric, literate, historical, and religious elements is skillful and (in a fantasy sort of way) mostly plausible, memorable, and entertaining. Also, it's not overlong or overly complicated -- a blessing in times when authors often pile on characters and subplots in order to pad the page count. Finally, the tentative romance that Goldstein develops between a 30-ish, hippy-ish single mom and a stodgy, divorced, 50-ish recluse is more charming than it sounds. The bad: Goldstein's prose style is plain and distant; she's not a lot of fun to read. Her dialogue is often stilted and doesn't always seem appropriate to the speaker -- as when a 4-year-old girl talks like a child twice her age. While Goldstein begins with some clever ideas, she has difficulty figuring out what to do with them. She gets by with a slow reveal through most of the book, but by the last fifth of the book she has to lay all of her cards on the table ... and what she shows us isn't pretty. What we get in the end is a bizarre steampunk supervillain with a historical connection to the London Underground (hence the subway train on the dust cover), and a frenetic sequence of action scenes that fit poorly with the rest of the book, followed by a few pages of quick, pat resolutions. In other words, the conclusion is a lot less satisfying than it could be. The bottom line: DARK CITIES UNDERGROUND has a good deal to offer urban fantasy fans. It's not a flawless book by any stretch, but it is generally compelling and a fairly quick read.

  • What's going on under the ground??
    From Amazon

    I first read a novel of Goldstein's several years ago, The Dream Years, her second book, a fantastic fable of surrealism and the Paris revolution that stuck in my mind. This book is equally compelling. Jeremy Jerome Gerontius Jones is now a 50-year-old trying to forget his notoriety as the child hero of his mother's famous Neverwas children's book series of the 1950's. Turns out that the land of Neverwas is real, intimately connected to the world's subway systems, and that the mother took stories her son told her about that land for the books she wrote. Now a single mother and writer, Ruthie, has met Jerry Jones for her work on a biography of his famous mother, just at the time that forces of the lands underground are locked in battles for control. Goldstein speculates engagingly on the relationship of authors to their child muses in a contemporary, fast-paced, never sticky combination of mystery, fantasy, and adventure. (She does allow her aboveworld characters to languish in annoying confusion and density long after the reader has dummied up, however.) A great read.

  • Clever Plot; Competent Writing
    From Amazon

    This is a solid but unexceptionable fantasy novel. Like the work of Tim Powers and others, it assumes a mythic substructure to our mundane world. In this case, the emphasis is on the Egyptian Osiris myth, though other mythic archetypes are involved in the story. The plot, involving the mythical elements, subway construction, and different aspects of children's literature, is ingenious. Other aspects of the book, such as character development and prose in general, do not match the promise of the plot. Worth reading but disappointing in the sense that the potential of the story is never really fulfilled.

  • Tim Powers light
    From Amazon

    This book shows that Lisa Goldstein clearly is channeling the same spirit as Tim Powers and Neil Gaiman: there's a shadow world just beneath our own, and anyone who can see it risks being labelled crazy...or much worse yet, being noticed by the denizens of the second world.

    I say "Tim Powers light", but that's not dismissive - there are times when one doesn't want a 12 course meal. This novel is just an app, a salad, and an entree, but that's not to speak poorly of it. There are paths not taken, and ideas not explored, but one nice effect of that is that one leaves the table feeling full, but not bloated.

  • Take a subway ride through childhood mythic adventure...
    From Amazon

    Could there possibly be a connection between Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit and Wind in the Willows? Could they all be stories that were told, not by the authors to their children, but rather by the children to their parents? Could they all be about the same place, a fantastic world that only children could enter and return to tell stories about?

    When a struggling journalist is hired to do a biography of A. E. Jones, the author of the classic children's series "Jeremy in Neverwas", her suspicions are aroused. Especially when she meets the author's son, now a disturbed, middle-aged man, who has become estranged from his mother for stealing his childhood. As she continues her research into truth behind Neverwas she never expects that her own daughter will also be drawn into this fantastic world. A world far more dangerous than any children's book.

    This is terrific book. The author ties in history, myth and literature to create a timeless story. A fast paced and exciting roller-coaster ride. No, make that a fast paced and exciting subway ride! You'll get my meaning when you read the book.

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