Book review: The Book of Sand by Theo Clare.

An odd book, this one. It was written by one of my favourite authors under a pseudonym, and unfortunately, it was the last thing she wrote before succumbing to complications from motor neurone disease.

I’ve read (and reviewed) one or two of her books from the excellent Jack Caffrey series, and I’ve found her an author who write brilliantly, and never shied away from the tough subjects like child abuse and genocide. The Book of Sand was very different:

The Book of Sand

The story is set (mostly) in a desert, the location of which doesn’t appear to make geographical sense. (There is a reason for this). In this desert, a group of families are searching for an artifact called the Sarkpont, which gives them the way out. But if that wasn’t enough, the families are being pursued by a fast-moving carnivorous creatures known as the Djinni.

As I said, this was the final work from Mo Hayder, so I’m very sad that I didn’t enjoy it more. As with everything else she’s written, it was meticulously crafted the prose had a light, yet gritty touch, resulting with a story choc full of light and gritty characters.

The problem I had was the setting. The first part of the book was almost a separate novel, splitting its time between a city in the US and this very odd desert. The second part was exclusively given over to the sands. And that was the problem; it was just … sand, so wasn’t really a lot going on in terms of setting. Now, there was a good reason for this:

I have to say, I did struggle to finish The Book of Sand. It had lots of interesting ideas, and the characters were well thought out, but the story itself struggled to move forward, and I kind of struggled to make it to the end of the book.

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