Thursday, February 20, 2014
The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox
For those who have never heard of this book, here's a short summary. Edward Glyver has just killed a man. Why? Because he wanted to make sure that he had the guts to kill, so that he wouldn't falter when he kills his arch-enemy Phoebus Daunt. Why does he want to kill Phoebus? Well, that would be the plot of the book.
In Edward, there is a clever protagonist whose flaw is the beautiful Emily. While I was rooting for him throughout the whole book, after reading and reflecting, I realised that the means he uses to try and achieves his goals are as bad as Phoebus. And yet I still wish that he had a complete triumph over Phoebus, which just goes to show that his narrative voice was very well written.
This book, although really thick, is gripping. It's Victorian in its setting and influences, except for one thing - the ending. While I'm not an expert on Victorian literature, most of the books that I've read (like those by Charles Dickens) have, more or less, a happy ending. This book has what I can only call an incomplete ending. Sure, the villain dies, but the protagonist is never restored to his rightful place. It's unsatisfactory, which is why I'm really glad there's a sequel to this book. I need the sequel so badly now.
While this book is supposed to be a mystery driven book, I think the real driving force are really the characters and how they interact with one another. Trust the wrong person, and success can suddenly fall away. Plot twists don't appear due to a clever trick in a murder or a mystery, they appear because the characters are irrational emotional humans and hide their emotions. And because this is told exclusively from Edward's point of view, all other characters are seen through his eyes. That means that while one character may seem innocent on first reading, on the second reading, knowing the true characters of the character, hints of their true allegiance comes out.
I'm pretty sure that a re-reading of this book would bring more things to light, but right now, I really really need to go and find the sequel.