When a fisherman receives a mysterious letter about his beloved’s demise, he sets off in his skiff to find her. A whale swallows him, then deposits him on the Isle of the Dead, which is ruled by a trio of giant bird gods. The fisherman must negotiate with the self-proclaimed leader — a narcissistic, bullying crow — to return his beloved to physical form. In “The Alehouse at the End of the World,” an epic comedy set in the sixteenth century, bawdy Shakespearian love triangles play out with shapeshifting avian demigods and a fertility goddess, drunken revelry, and bio-dynamic gardening. A raucous, aw-aw-aw-awe-inspiring romp, Stevan Allred’s second book is a juicy fable for adults and a hopeful tale for troubled times.
At the time of writing this review Goodreads have rated this as 3.08 out of 5
11th November 2018 by Forest Avenue Press
The fisherman lived alone at the edge of the sea, in a shack beneath the shade of the tallest shore pine for leagues, on a bluff above a shallow cove. All his days he had worked the sea, as a sailor, and a carpenter, on ships both great and small, and as a fisherman, gillnetting for the fishmongers in the portside markets, or trailing a line from his skiff to feed only himself.
I received a copy of this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Once again I am confused by publishing dates but hey ho. Netgalley tells me this is released on the 16th November but Goodreads tells me its 11th November so I’ll go with that.
I am also confused by this book. Sorry.
I picked it up because something about it seemed very Terry Pratchett esque and from what I’ve read since, I am not the only person who got that vibe. I think it’s something to do with the merging of fables/ Shakespeare/ comedy and human foibles which is something that Terry Pratchett did amazingly well at.
Now don’t get me wrong, Terry Pratchett is inimitable and to be fair, The Alehouse at the End of the World doesn’t advertise itself as being like Terry Pratchett in any way. But it’s interesting that I wasn’t the only person who was thinking along the Pratchett lines.
It’s nothing like a Terry Pratchett book. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. Thinking it would vibe the same. In some ways yes, it did. It’s quirky and highly imaginative and if you took a bunch of LSD and went to an aviary I’m sure the experience you would have there is similar to the experience you would have reading this book.
A trippy head funk involving a lot of birds.
This is billed (no pun intended, ok maybe a little pun intended) as a bawdy comedy. Now comedy is hard and very subjective. If you found this book funny than you will rate it higher than what I am rating. Unfortunately I didn’t find it funny. When something is a comedy that’s a problem and it’s a problem that I couldn’t overcome.
I wasn’t too sure where the humour was supposed to be derived from – was it the excessive mentions of the crow eating up body parts of dead humans and his obsession with the nipples and scrota? Was it how drunk they all got when an alehouse was finally built? Was it the constant references to the bird god’s bulging loincloths?!
That is the other thing I just couldn’t gel with. There was so much crudity. This is coming from someone who has written smut in fiction. Ahem. But I swear I am no prude. I just didn’t enjoy the over sexualisation of the female characters and the constant mention of their breasts. I counted how many times the word ‘breast’ featured in one paragraph and it was five. Five.
Boobs. This book was about boobs. And worse… it was about boobs on bird women. Maybe I’m missing something here but I guess I just didn’t need descriptions of sexy bird women or the explanation that bird men have massive penises. Am I allowed to say penis in a review? Am I allowed to say it in an ARC review?!
The sex scenes were plentiful and uncomfortable and unfortunately this book used one of the tropes that I hate the most in the world and used it for humour. We are talking ‘The Bed Trick’ where someone pretends to be someone else in order to bed a person. I don’t like it when it’s used flippantly and for ‘fun’. It’s personal preference but I don’t. Sorry.
A male character beats a female character. This same male character spews some nasty things about women. I understand that this character is not nice and his actions and viewpoints are not presented as a good thing but the female characters desire, admire and love him all the same and again…. I didn’t like it. I understand the message is, ‘you can’t help who you desire or love’, but there was almost a vibe of, ‘oh well, you know what he’s like,’ about it.
For me the plot was a little on the slow side and the big battle didn’t really have much in the way of build up. It was definitely more of a sexy, bed swapping tale between bird people and reanimated souls than a fight to see who would control the Isle of the Dead and who would save the world from being swallowed up.
I’ll stop now because I feel like I’m beating a dead corvid with a stick and they don’t deserve that because corvid’s are awesome.
The authors imagination is boundless and I’m sure that more inventive and quirky stories will present themselves but sadly this one just wasn’t for me.