Monday, May 08, 2006

Calypso Dreaming - Charles Butler

Charles Butler's Calypso Dreaming is set on Sweetholm, a small island out in the Bristol channel, which is best known for its seal and seabird colonies. When Geoff and Hilary Robinson are offered the opportunity to look after a house there for the summer, they see it as a good opportunity to work at patching up their disintegrating marriage. Tansy, their teenage daughter sees it as a chance to put behind her the unnerving experiments she and her best friend Kate have been making in magic. Unfortunately trouble is not so easily outrun and Sweetholm is far from the idyllic retreat it appears to be. It is, as the tagline on the dustjacket says, "one of the places where the world is frayed", a place where the dividing line between ordinary life and ancient magic has become dangerously thin. The key to the troubling events on Sweetholm is Calypso, a strange child with round lidless eyes and webbed feet hint at her ancestry. Her prophetic dreams have power, but will anybody dare to believe the truth ?

As with all of Charles Butler's books that I have read, the supernatural in this book is disturbing and unnerving; it seems all too easily possible. The book is also gripping and a page turner. Some of the things that happen to the characters, such as Calypso's uncle Dominic and Tansy's dad Geoff are frightening (more over the Scholar's Blog Spoiler Zone, but for all that, I couldn't put it down. If you have an impressionable nature, this book is best read in broad daylight !


Anonymous said...

[Sorry about all the recent comments, but you're talking about some of my very favourite books!]

Calypso Dreaming was the first of Charlie's books I read, in 2003, and the ending was made even eerier for me, if possible, by Mosul's being in the news at the time - major violence there after the fall of Baghdad, I think it was. I complimented Charlie on his prescience and he said he'd 'just' picked Mosul as it had been the site of Nineveh. One of those little throw-away richnesses with which his books are packed. Doesn't matter if you don't get the allusions (as I often wouldn't), but added layers of meaning for the spotting.

Michele said...

Hi Hallie, no apology necessary for posting prolifically - I'm delighted to know I have another reader !

I've been on a Charlie Butler mini-marathon the last week or so - a build up to a piece about his books in the next issue of The Edge of the Forest !