Recent Reads

The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, by Michael Swanwick. A Cracking little read, this one, bonkers and brave and brash. Totally slaps anyone who suspects ‘gritty’ fantasy is a new thing. This book doesn’t shy away from adult language and themes (war, racism, sexism), and has a pleasing mish-mash of aesthetics, from the gentle veneer of the fae, to the harsh industrial landscape – all mixed with a spot of college antics and sex. Quite likely a deliberate attempt to upset some section of the genre readership – which you’ve got to love, right?

The Man Who Was Thursday, by G. K. Chesterton. A very eccentric metaphysical romp, where the narrative and dialogue is almost entirely a soapbox for philosophy and religion, thoughts on good and evil, spot the anarchist and whatnot. A little underwhelming, but I still enjoyed it. (Would love to have seen Calvino write this novel.)

Next up, American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. I’m actually about a hundred pages in, and rather seduced by its beautiful madness.

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About Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.


  1. Glad you liked the Swanwick book – it’s an old favourite of mine. I’m a bit embarrassed by the fact that I have never read The Man Who Was Thursday…clearly this must be put right.

  2. American Gods is sweet. I listened to the audiobook and just went along for the ride. Gaiman takes you places you don’t expect to go and it’s awesome! Enjoy.

  3. I’d quite forgotten The Iron Dragon’s Daughter until you just mentioned it – I read it years ago, and – I should dig that out for a re-read, shouldn’t I?

    Enjoy American Gods!

  4. How were you introduced to Chesterton? He’s more or less a forgotten literary genius, but he’s experiencing something of a renaissance. The Man Who Was Thursday is one of my favorite novels. Reads as though Ian Fleming and Kafka sat down, did acid, and wrote a surreal thriller.

    American Gods is another favorite of mine. Enjoy!

  5. Aishwarya – everyone has a list o’ shame.

    Jonathan – I’ve heard a few people praise the audiobook so perhaps I should investigate.

    Alex – definitely worth a re-read.

    Drew – he’d been on my reading list for some time, but only recently made it to the top. I’m interested enough to read more – which would you suggest people read next?

  6. The Swanwick is also a favorite of mine… I’d never thought of the ‘deliberately offensive’ theory, but I really like it, and that makes me like the book even more.

  7. ooh recent reads, well, The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie and Fallen Angels by Mike Lee. Have you read Laurie’s book? If not, get a copy and read it. You can thank me later 🙂

  8. Jared – yeah, I think I’ll always have a soft spot for books that say ‘No’ to whatever is comforting. It’s even more pertinent these days.

    Phillip – I’ve not, no. My reading pile is huge at the moment, and for some reason, I never really like that much comedy in my fiction.

  9. I wouldn’t classify it as comedy though I realise I’m alone in this. The books strikes me as a rather dark spy novel told from the perspective of a man with a wicked sense of humour…is that comedy? I think not.

  10. I must be “some section of the genre readership” because I couldn’t enjoy the Swanwick book (or at least the second half). I felt like I was missing some necessary neurochemical enhancement.

    The audiobook is a nice format for American Gods. (Another book which fell apart for me at the end.)

  11. I read The Man Who Was Thursday last year and really enjoyed it. Like you said, Mark, it’s not anything that blows you away, but I was laughing most of the way through.

  12. Phillip: Comedy and darkness are, occasionally, interchangeable, I suspect.

    Kat: Two books that didn’t work? You’re a hard lady to please.

    Bryce: Yeah – Chesterton’s style is admirable in how it leaves you with a chuckle.

  13. I loved The Iron Dragon’s Daughter. I recommend Dragons of Babel, also by Swanwick and set in the same world.