The Book of Lies

The Book of Lies By James Moloney [LibrarythingAmazon]

When a young boy wakes up at Mrs. Timmin’s Home for Orphans and Foundlings, all he can remember is his name: Marcel. And if the terrifying sorcerer Lord Alwyn has his way, that’s all Marcel will ever remember. But with the help of three of the other children at the orphanage, all of whom have equally mysterious backgrounds, Marcel may just manage to learn the truth after all. But who can he trust? And though Lord Alwyn’s greatest creation is sworn to tell only the truth, is it wise to believe the Book of Lies?

Reading this book was like a checklist of fantasy elements. Here’s the young hero who doesn’t know of his royal parentage or his own magic ability. Here’s his rival who eventually becomes his best friend when they save one another’s lives. Here’s the love interest, a dark young woman who may or may not being entirely human. Here’s the aging wizard with ambiguous morality and a pet monster. Here’s the evil king. Here’s the kindly orphanage owner. Here’s the handsome young knight who leads the children through the forest. Here are the elves. Here’s the dragon. Boom, boom, boom.

Maybe it’s because the elements are so standard that The Book of Lies is so boring. Or maybe it’s because Moloney has a bad habit of showing, not telling. Every scene felt like someone was recapping it for me; I never once felt like I was there. The prose was stilted and the dialogue was unrealistic; I couldn’t imagine getting my mouth around the awkward phrases these characters throw out, even if I lived in a vaguely medieval magical kingdom. The world never came alive, and the characters never made me care.

There were good ideas in the book, of which the titular tome is the best. Whenever someone speaks a lie in the presence of the Book of Lies, it records their lie on its pages; when they speak the truth, it glows. However, the weight of the lies has corrupted the Book, and it now does its best to deceive via the truth. It’s an Oedipal sort of irony – people try to avoid the events the Book prophecies and thus, after a circuitous route, cause them to come true. It’s a nifty, tricksy little idea, but would be stronger had the Book been given a motive. The idea that the lies themselves have corrupted the Book doesn’t really work, since Moloney makes it clear that lies themselves aren’t always evil and are sometimes downright useful. Still, most of the mythology surrounding the Book works well.

The Book of Lies gets 2.5 cupcakes. Nothing in it really stood out as being bad, but nothing in it stood out as being terribly good, either, and I have no interest in picking up the sequel.

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    One Response to “The Book of Lies”

    1. Hannah says:

      I thought this book was okay. It wasn’t what I thought it would be like when I picked it up but it was okay. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat when I read it but I like it enough to get the sequel.

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