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Vellum by Hal Duncan Review

Title: Vellum

Author: Hal Duncan

First published January 1, 2005

600 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780330438360 (ISBN10: 0330438360)

Rating: 3.3


The End Days are near, and the battle for control of the Vellum is about to begin. But for two unlikely heroes, an Irish angel and a tomboy named Phreedom, the fight is more than just a clash between Heaven and Hell.

As ancient gods and modern humans alike struggle to save themselves, it becomes clear that there are no heroes or villains in this war – only those desperate to survive. In “Vellum,” author Hal Duncan creates a stunning and unforgettable world, expanding the limits of fantasy and delivering a mind-blowing read that defies all expectations.

About the Author

Meet Hal Duncan, a talented author whose debut novel Vellum captivated readers and earned him recognition as a finalist for the William H. Crawford Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel.

He’s also a valued member of the Glasgow SF Writers’ Circle, showcasing his passion for science fiction writing. When he’s not crafting his next masterpiece, you can find Hal residing in the vibrant West End of Glasgow.

Editoral Review

In the world of literary fiction, few books stand out quite like Vellum by Hal Duncan. A strikingly original work that defies easy categorization or description, Vellum showcases Duncan’s remarkable imagination and talent for crafting complex, thought-provoking narratives that captivate and challenge readers at every turn.

Published in 2005 to widespread critical acclaim, Vellum blends elements of science fiction, fantasy, mythology, and horror into a sprawling epic that spans multiple timelines and dimensions. The story follows the interwoven lives of several characters, both human and supernatural, as they navigate a universe full of ancient secrets, vengeful gods, and mysterious forces that threaten to unravel existence as we know it.

The novel’s opening sections introduce us to various players in this immersive and intricate world, including a group of rebellious angels, a band of punk rock demons, and an enigmatic figure known only as the Erinyes. As the book progresses, we follow these and other characters through various timelines and settings, from ancient myths and legends to futuristic dystopias and beyond.

One of the most striking aspects of Vellum is its sheer scope and ambition. Duncan weaves together countless threads of mythology and folklore into a tapestry that feels both grandiose and deeply personal.

Along the way, he tackles themes of identity, power, ethics, and the role of stories in shaping our understanding of the world around us. While some readers may find the book’s non-linear structure and dense prose challenging, those who stick with it will be rewarded with a rich and rewarding experience.

Duncan’s writing is dense and evocative, full of dense layers of imagery and symbolism that invite readers to think deeply about the meanings behind each word and phrase. At times, the book can feel overwhelming, with its dizzying array of characters, settings, and themes coming at the reader in rapid succession.

However, Duncan’s skillful pacing and expert handling of multiple plotlines keeps the narrative from ever feeling unwieldy or disjointed. For all its strengths, Vellum is not without a few minor flaws.

Some readers may find the book’s philosophical musings and dense symbolism too weighty and self-important at times, and the occasionally graphic violence and sexual content may not be to everyone’s taste. However–these minor criticisms aside–Vellum is a true tour de force that demands to be reckoned with.

It is a complex and challenging work that rewards careful reading and reflection, and one that will stay with readers long after the final page is turned. For fans of literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and horror alike, I highly recommend Hal Duncan’s remarkable novel.

It is a unique and unforgettable reading experience that showcases the power and possibility of the written word. 4.5/5.

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