Simon Morden, Philip K. Dick award-winning author, satisfies fans of his debut novel Down Station with his long-anticipated sequel The White City. Resurrecting some of his most-loved characters, Morden’s latest offering marks a continuation of Dalip and Mary’s journey through ‘Down’ - a quasi-apocalyptic Garden of Eden - as they attempt to navigate the web of lies and betrayals spun by the series’ antagonist Crows.
The quest marks a broader search - the search for meaning - one which is particularly poignant in such times of international unrest; the characters’ sometimes futile search is one that is at times rewarding and frustrating, but always relate-able.
Yet, Morden takes a well-worn theme and otherwise predictable canvas of characters and creates a completely unique world, spanning different time periods and geopolitical landscapes, as it slowly becomes clear that every character in ‘Down’ has arrived by accident having escaped from a public or personal trauma all of their own.
A figurative purgatory, Morden does an exceptional job of characterising ‘Down’ as a liminal, continuously warping space, promising everything while also promising to snatch everything away. But while the monsters of ‘Down’ threaten Morden’s heroes at every turn, this fantastical journey teaches Dalip and Mary, most of all, that biggest threats to our own safety and identity come from within ourselves.
How far are we willing to put our lives in the hands of others? How far can we trust ourselves inside a group of strangers each fighting for their own lives? Most importantly, how far will we go to find our way home?
Morden’s The White City ultimately combines the hypothetical social apocalypse of ‘Lord of the Flies’ with the magical landscape of a Tolkien novel, throwing in his own collection of contemporary characters for good measure, to offer a fresh approach to an age-old literary concept.
Written on 22nd May 2017 by Abbie.
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