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Drinking Midnight Wine
Simon R. Green
Victor Gollancz, 265 pages

Drinking Midnight Wine
Simon R. Green
Simon R. Green was born in 1955 in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England. He obtained an M.A. in Modern English and American Literature from Leicester University and he also studied history and has a combined Humanities degree. After several years of publishers' rejection letters, he sold seven novels in 1988, just two days after he started working at Bilbo's bookshop in Bath. This was followed by a commission to write the novelization of the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He is a British Fantasy Society (BFS) member and still finds time to do some Shakespearean acting.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Beyond The Blue Moon
SF Site Interview: Simon R. Green
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Destiny
SF Site Review: Swords of Haven
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Honor
SF Site Review: Twilight of the Empire
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Rebellion
Simon R. Green Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Victoria Strauss

Taking some time out from the series space opera and fantasy of his popular Deathstalker and Hawk and Fisher books, Simon R. Green returns to the quirky urban fantasy mode of his less-well-known stand-alone Shadows Fall with this dual world adventure.

Toby Dexter is an ordinary guy, with a dead-end job at a bookstore and an aimless, totally predictable existence. He has always longed for something different, something better, but having reached his thirties without any sign of different or better coming along, he has pretty much given up. There's just one not-quite-ordinary thing in his life: he has fallen in love with a woman who shares his daily commute. He doesn't know a thing about her -- in fact, he has never actually spoken to her -- but still he can't get her out of his mind.

One day, in the train station where both Toby and his mystery woman finish their commute, Toby watches the woman walk through a door he's positive was never there before. On impulse, he follows... and everything changes.

Toby has passed into Mysterie, the world of magic that lies behind the real world of Veritie. Unfortunately, denizens of Veritie aren't really supposed to enter Mysterie, and, by doing so, Toby has made himself a focal point, a pivot around which great events revolve, and from whom great resolutions, or great disasters, may stem. And great disaster may be in the offing, for something evil is afoot in Mysterie, something that may threaten the existence of both the worlds. Toby very definitely doesn't want to play the hero. But as he and his mystery woman -- whose name is Gayle, and whose human aspect is only the smallest part of her true nature -- set out to discover what's going on, he begins to realize (much to his dismay) that he may have no choice. The fate of two worlds may depend on him alone.

Green brings a wealth of imagination to Mysterie, a realm where gods are real, legends walk, and monsters and miracles live side by side. Elements of Celtic folklore, legends of various types, and angelology are blended into a vivid if not always logical alternate cosmology, and extravagantly sinister settings (the corrupt and blasted woodlands of Blackacre), striking descriptions (fearsome Angel, with her crimson eyes and rosary of human finger bones), breathless fight scenes (lots of zombies) and humorous details (the kind of junk mail one might receive in a magical world) add to the fun.

Since this is a Simon R. Green book, everything is much larger than life -- the heroes extremely heroic, the villains astonishingly villainous, the choices between good and evil very clear-cut. Still, if the ultimate outcome is never really in doubt, there's plenty of entertainment in the journey, and the engagingly-drawn characters -- Toby, Gyale, Norse godling Jimmy Thunder, a tribe of mischievous Mice -- are fun to travel with, even if they do spend a bit too much time sitting around and explaining things to each other. Drinking Midnight Wine is a treat for Green's fans, especially those who'd like to see him turn his distinctive style to something a little different. For American readers, there'll be a Roc edition in February 2002.

Copyright © 2002 Victoria Strauss

Victoria Strauss is a novelist, and a lifelong reader of fantasy and science fiction. Her most recent fantasy novel The Garden of the Stone is currently available from HarperCollins EOS. For details, visit her website.

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