Step into Mal Peet’s strangely allegorical world where magic realism sits comfortably with literary deconstruction and genre criticism, and get ready for a transformative experience.
Philip Murdstone is a writer whose successes appear to be a thing of the past, after an initial award-winning book about a little boy with learning difficulties, he realises his formula is stale, and becomes pressured by his attractive agent to turn his hand to writing fantasy fiction (which is the genre du jour at publishing houses, and which she anticipates will save Murdstone from being dropped by his publisher).
The rural idyll he purchased at the height of his success has become a money pit: dank, damp and needing constant work and maintenance, whilst small town/ country life is full of inconvenience andnosy, judgmental neighbours. Racking his brain (and the local library) for inspiration proves fruitless, until he suddenly receives a visit from his muse, that or he encounters a genuine blurring of boundaries between worlds, or it is the onset of a creatively beneficial nervous breakdown. The beauty of Peet’s vision and style is that it could be any, or all of the above. His prose if full of hearty metaphor and allegory, it’s rich, informal and witty, original yet evoking Pratchett and Adams as comparisons.
His knowingness is an unashamed, unafraid and playful mirror of the the capricious world of publishing and the vanity of the writer, in particular the world that is devoted to Young Adult fiction.