Title: Note from the Burning Age
Author: Claire North
Release Date: 22/7/2021
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 51
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Orbit Books ,via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
From one of the most imaginative writers of her generation comes an extraordinary vision of the future…
Ven was once a holy man, a keeper of ancient archives. It was his duty to interpret archaic texts, sorting useful knowledge from the heretical ideas of the Burning Age—a time of excess and climate disaster. For in Ven’s world, such material must be closely guarded so that the ills that led to that cataclysmic era can never be repeated.
But when the revolutionary Brotherhood approaches Ven, pressuring him to translate stolen writings that threaten everything he once held dear, his life will be turned upside down. Torn between friendship and faith, Ven must decide how far he’s willing to go to save this new world—and how much he is willing to lose.
Clare North’s writing is just beautiful. It paints such a beautiful picture of the world around the characters and I found it be be very immersive. Set in a Dystopian/utopian futuristic world where climate disaster has forced humans to denounce the many aspects of "The Burning age". The Burning age represents where we are now, with fossil fuel usage high, internet trolls, misinformation campaigns, capitalism, consumerism, landfills and more. All of which were destroyed, lost, and are slowly being rediscovers in this new age. I really liked the descriptions of the technology that managed to both feel futuristic but also within the first chapters feel homey and small country life with a make-do and mend sort of feel. Combined with the plot, it really highlights the danger of our societies (particularly western societies), of how we treat the planet and how we treat each other.
The mythologizing of our current existence is really interesting and sets up some really inventive world building. The worldbuilding is just so fantastic, how it has restructured after climate disaster, and how it celebrates and denigrates out current society. Beautiful writing that establishes such a gorgeous set of history and mythology that really captures the deep sadness as well as the moments of joy. Love the concept of an archaeologist/linguist in the future running through all the data we produce now to sift out the interesting from the cat pictures, studying online trolling as an anthropological exercise. There is a subtle humour to the worldbuilding, especially when referencing our society like our great artists “Beatless and Beyondsee” The religious aspects have a darkness to them, a fear that it just lurking behind the beliefs. We have only just touched on the “Kakuy”, a sort of deamon/earth spirit, that have a spine chilling aspect to them.
There is something compelling about the narrator and how we are getting to know him and that keeps the pages turning. An interesting narrator and narrative style, there is a calmness to the recollection of the story they are telling that pulls you in and keeps you reading. Venn is a little morally grey but in a sympathetic way. I love how the plot, morphs and grows as we learn more about Venn. We start off in an interesting tale of rediscovery, a parable of the dangers of climate change and move towards political machinations, power, espionage and finding where you fit in the world.
It does this in such a soft a subtle way. It is just gorgeous. There is action and danger, but they are highlighted with moments of peace and reflection that are just as captivating to read. The prose walks that delicate line of speculative and literary fiction without getting too flowery. Wither it is the aspects of spy craft, the terror of history repeating itself, or the quiet grace in the way Venn witnesses nature it just combines into a really interesting read. This isn’t your hail of bullets action packed thriller, instead it builds, giving you time to explore the world, to think and build up tension in your own mind as the plot plays out. There is so much emotion and depth, I just really enjoyed it.