Review published on February 11, 2018.
This is an odd, original and quite brilliant novel. It’s genre crossing, encompassing crime, noir, dystopia and sci-fi. In many ways it might be best described as a kind of dystopian fairy tale, and it’s certainly narrated in such a way, the prose being lyrical.
The story is set in Dublin, but this is a future, dystopian cityscape. A long time before the events of the book, lost in the backstory, some kind of climactic disaster took hold where it started raining and never stopped. Much of Ireland is now flooded and people have never seen the sun. The author uses the constant rainfall to great effect, people have to wear skins when they go outdoors – waterproof honchos basically – but more than such obvious facets are the subtle details, the constant sound of rainfall, the size of the raindrops, all of which imbue this novel with real atmosphere. Then there are the slugs. Due to the giant rainfall, the slugs are all massive. They are harmless, this is no schlock horror, but it’s just an icky detail that works and gives the world the author’s created more depth.
The story itself is based around the Kid in Yellow, a kid who wears distinctive yellow skins and who works as a runner for the Earlie King, a gang boss in charge of the brutal Earlie Boys. One day, the Kid meets the King’s daughter, T. A romance blossoms and T falls pregnant. Her pregnancy lasts for twelve months, not uncommon in this polluted world and she dies in childbirth. The Earlie King banishes the Kid after giving him a beating, but the Kid in Yellow can’t bear the loss of T and promised her he would care for their child. He sneaks into the King’s home, takes the child and goes on the run.
I won’t divulge any more of the plot for fear of spoilers, but this is a book that is well worth a read. If I have one criticism it is that Danny Denton’s writing style takes some getting used to. In particular, when writing dialogue, instead of using the traditional inverted commas he uses this symbol: /. At the beginning I found this very distracting and was worried I wouldn’t through the book. As it is I persevered, soon got used to it and was rewarded for doing so, for The Earlie King & The Kid in Yellow is a wonderful tale beautifully told.
James Pierson 5/5
The Earlie King & the Kid in Yellow by Danny Denton
Granta Books 9781783783656 pbk Jan 2018
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