By Daniel Polansky
- Marchs End
Author: Daniel Polansky
Publisher: Angry Robot
- ISBN: 9781915202451
- Published: May 2023
- Pages: 387
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 15/05/2023
- Language: English
Keeping it in the family sounds like a wonderful idea. Surround yourself with people you can trust, blood is thicker than water, but do family businesses work? Why do so many fail by the third generation? The first generation build the company from nothing, the second grow it further, the third – squander all the money on fast cars and drugs? What if your family business is not just the local bakery, but the protectors of a magical land called the March. Daniel Polansky’s March’s End explores what good, and what damage, a family can have when they live normal lives by day and are leaders by night.
Members of the Harrow family are taught from an early age about the March. A magical land of mechanical beings, living toys, intelligent beehives and so much more. The stories become reality as the children get older and they realise that the March exists. At night, members of the Harrow family are transported to protect the land and it needs their protection as the End approaches once more. Can the dysfunctional Harrow family work together to save the March and stop it bleeding into our own world?
Fantasy often has a cast of messed up characters, it makes for entertaining intrigue and plenty of backstabbing, but few of them live up to the disfunction that are the Harrows. By this generation, the grown-up children really do not want to get involved in the March. The dutiful child stays, whist the other two have scattered across America, but when their mother becomes ill, the crown needs to be passed on and who would wear it the best?
The character development plays a significant role in End and each of the three children are all given plenty of space to show what they are made of. Constance, Mary Ann, and Will are all capable of taking over from their mother in their own way, but they are also deeply flawed. It is not helped that the destruction of the March and our own world is threatened.
The book truly is a family saga, strip out the fantasy elements and you have a barnstorming domestic drama, but the fantasy elements are also a key part. The versions of the Harrows in our world are different to those in the March. There they are cast as heroes, at least on the surface. This is a magical world full of extraordinary characters and creatures. Polansky opens their imagination and draws together so many elements. Touches of Alice in Wonderland and Narnia, filtered through the dark lens of Return to Oz and Labyrinth. I think in places there is too much happening as you are dealing with family drama and a cast of magical characters who often speak in riddles or verse. A touch less, or a story spread a little further, would make the experience even more mesmerising.
It was the Harrows of Earth which grabbed my attention the most. The various scrapes and tragedies are played out in flashbacks throughout the book. We discover so much about the three siblings that you start to realise that not all is at it seems. Visiting the March is fun, but also full on and bizarro, so many nations of diverse types of creatures, all inhabiting the same place. Most are not given the time to learn about them as much as we do the Harrow family. The book has an open ending with plenty more to see from both worlds. There are enough ideas on the page to trigger the imagination of any fantasy fan, and if you are looking for a messed-up family in a messed-up fantasy world, then March’s End will work for you.
Written on 15th May 2023 by Sam Tyler .