The Alehouse at the End of the World by Stevan Allred

Review published on November 7, 2018.

An admission – I’m not usually a fan of sci-fi/fantasy novels so I approached this with some trepidation. But I was pleasantly surprised as it was great fun!

A lonely fisherman is trying to seek his lost love – his ‘beloved’ – who has disappeared when he returns from his travels and, after receiving a letter about her demise, he sets out on his boat once again with only a silver chain to remind him of her. Soon he meets a whale who swallows him and, before dying, he is expelled from the whale’s stomach to find himself stranded on the Island of the Dead. It’s a bit of an epic comedy with hints of Moby Dick and The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner alongside Shakespearean love triangles and shape-shifting avian demigods and a beautiful fertility goddess.

The sailor finds he is dead but that the souls are on the island – often in other forms – but even finding his beloved leads to more adventures. The three main bird characters are brilliant – the frigate, the cormorant and the narcissistic bullying crow are funny, evil and sometimes tragic.

The island is headed by Kiamah Beast but his leadership is under threat under an almost Wizard of Oz-like fantasy.

It’s funny, well written and is an adult fable with violence and sex. The author also opens up the emotional side to the sailor and the mysterious Dewi Sri, the mystical and beautiful goddess who comes to the island and affects everyone.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised to immerse myself in this strange world where true life is definitely suspended. It’s the second novel by this author and, although I’ve struggled with many a sci-fi/fantasy writer’s work before this one, it did entertain me.

A great personal read and one not just for the usual fantasy fans in book clubs.

Philipa Coughlan 4/3

The Alehouse at the End of the World by Stevan Allred
Forest Avenue Press 9781942436379 pbk Nov 2018

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