"Seregil of Rhiminee"
Tej Turner's vibrant and intriguingly gritty Dinnusos Rises is one of the most fascinating novels of the year, because it's a contemporary fantasy novel that is in equal parts speculative fiction, literary fiction and surrealism. Its sophisticatedly complex story and colourful characters will mesmerise readers who enjoy reading thought-provoking stories that defy easy classification.
Because I loved the author's previous novel, The Janus Cycle, and found it captivating, I had high expectations for Dinnusos Rises. I'm pleased to say that Dinnusos Rises met all of my expectations and even managed to exceed them, because it's just as rewarding and thought-provoking a reading experience as The Janus Cycle and then some. It's a perfect companion novel to The Janus Cycle.
Dinnusos Rises will be of interest to readers who enjoyed reading the previous novel, because it features familiar characters and strange happenings. It will also please newcomers, because it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel. I think that it will also appeal to readers who don't normally read speculative fiction, because the story is engaging and the characters are interesting.
It's great that the author blends literary fiction with speculative fiction and spices the story with a touch of surrealism, because it makes the events fascinating. This novel takes readers on a captivating and rewarding journey into a realistic yet surreal urban landscape where strange things happen and where reality meets fantasy in a powerful way. It offers glimpses into the lives of several characters and reveals what happens to them.
Here's a bit of information about the story and the characters who appear in it:
- Chapter 1 - Dreamwalker: Faye is a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and a lesbian. She's in a band called Sunset Haze, which practises in one of the rooms at Dinnusos. One night she meets a girl called Naomi who can feel and sense things that others can't. Soon Faye finds out that she is also special...
- Chapter 2 - Roots: Jack and Tilly get to know each other better. Tilly finds out that Jack has a connection with animals. Soon Jack gets a visit from his father, Jardair, who tells him about his political movement, Taxus Baccata, and asks for his help...
- Chapter 3 - Barking at the Moon: Pandora meets her old friend, Frelia, at Dinnusos and they discuss what happened between them. When they leave the club, they soon travel back in time...
- Chapter 4 - A Distant Melody: Patrick reminisces about his childhood with Ellen and Jessica and how Sunset Haze began. He is worried about Ellen, because she hasn't recovered from what happened to her. One day Patrick hears a distant melody that draws him towards it...
- Chapter 5 - The Picture Changes: Tristan finds himself at an afterparty and isn't sure how he actually got there. When Tristan comes home, Neal tells him that many of his paintings have changed...
- Chapter 6 - Dreaming Her Back: Naomi and Faye visit Naomi's mother to find out if it's possible to bring a spirit back after it has been banished...
- Chapter 7 - Bakkheia: In this chapter, Jessica does things that must be done...
- Chapter 8 - Scars: This last chapter is told from Tilly's point of view...
What I wrote above is but a small glimpse into what happens in this novel. When you begin to read the story, you'll find out that there's much more to it than what I mentioned here. The story is so captivating that it will grab hold of you and you'll find youself reading it as quickly as possible to find out what happens to the characters.
Because parts of the story take place at the night club Dinnusos, here are a few words about it. Dinnusos is a club in a district called Yesterville, which - according to some people - used to be the epicentre of the city and is the oldest district (Yesterville was abandoned and has become a place of urban decay, broken street lamps, vagrants and outcasts). Dinnusos is owned by Neal whose boyfriend, Tristan, has covered its walls with murals.
Just like in The Janus Cycle, the characterisation is excellent. All of the characters are three-dimensional and have depth to them, and - what's best - the author gives each of them a unique voice. I like the author's way of writing about what happens between the characters and how they feel about each other, because nothing feels artificial or pretentious. The characters interact with each other in a believable way.
What I love most about this novel is that the author manages to tell the story through different characters in a vivid way. Each of the characters brings depth to the story and makes it more interesting, because they all have their own stories to tell. By using multiple viewpoints, the author keeps the story fresh and interesting.
Here's a bit of information about some of the characters and their lives:
- Tilly is a well-created character, because she was assumed to be male at birth, but her essence, instincts and biology - to some degree - are of female gender. Doctors won't prescribe her hormone treatment, because she is considered to be too young and only give her 'puberty blockers'. She's trying to save money for sexual reassignment surgery.
- Ellen is haunted by Jessica, who is the ghost of her deceased twin (she can be possessed by Jessica). What makes things complicated is that Jessica is Faye's girlfriend and she's jealous of Faye's new friend, Naomi. I enjoyed reading about what happened between Ellen, Fay, Jessica and Naomi, because their deeds had surprising consequences.
- It was interesting to read about what happened between Patrick and Teris, because the author wrote captivatingly about both of them and how they felt about each other. I also enjoyed reading about how Jack became a political activist and joined Taxus Baccata.
The political movement, Taxus Baccata, is an interesting and integral part of the story. In fear of writing spoilers I won't go into too many details about it, but I can mention that it was fascinating to read about how it operated and what its members did. I'll also mention that I like its name, because it's the botanical name of yew.
The author has a genuine talent for writing stories that are spiced with gritty realism, because he does it well. He explores many challenging themes and issues ranging from acceptance and loneliness to self-harm and suicidal thoughts in a realistic way and avoids melodramatic moments. It's great that he also writes about various feelings and emotions, because they add depth to the story.
I have to mention that I was honestly amazed at how much depth the author had added into his story. This novel is filled with little things that come to mean a lot when you read the whole story (there are many details and nuances that many authors would've easily overlooked).
Although the story has quite a lot of grittiness and harshess, there are moments of beauty and a few humorous elements that offer counterbalance to the gritty elements. I like the author's writing style, because he fluently combines many elements and delivers a unique story.
One of the best things about this novel is that the author explores attraction, sex and different forms of sexuality in an admirably bold and realistic way. It's great that he dares to explore different kind of sexuality, because he does an incredible job at conveying what life is like for LGBT people and what kind of problems they face in their everyday lives. Tilly and her feelings are explored especially well, because she's a young transgendered person whose life is anything but easy.
There's something in this novel that slightly reminds me of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series, because the characters' lives interconnect in various ways and the nightclub Dinnusos serves as the nexus for them. It's kind of like a fantasy equivalent to Maupin's novels.
In my opinion, Dinnusos Rises is a prime example of what gifted authors are capable of achieving when they have courage to write about various themes and issues in a bold and insightful way. It's one of the best novels of the year and deserves the full attention of speculative fiction readers who love quality fiction, because it doesn't try to fit into the cookie-cutter mold from which most speculative fiction novels are made of. It dares to be different and wonderfully showcases the diversity of the genre and its possibilities.
Tej Turner's Dinnusos Rises is a novel that should not be missed by fans of contemporary fantasy fiction and urban fantasy novels. It's a fascinating and daring glimpse into the lives of different characters who struggle with their feelings and lives. I'm pleased to say that I find Dinnusos Rises excellent in every possible way, because it's a daring, thought-provoking and satisfyingly gritty novel. I sincerely hope that speculative fiction readers will find this novel, because it's compelling.
Excellent and thought-provoking speculative fiction - highly recommended!
I recommend reading The Janus Cycle before you continue with Dinnusos Rises. Dinnusos continues some of the stories from it. Toward the end of The Janus Cycle, we read:
"... Janus was once this great place where nobody gave a fxxx and you could just have fun, but then some blxxxx kids who don't have a clue tried to steal your vibe."...
"You just need to move on, he declared. "Look around you - this, what we have here tonight - isn't it that feeling, that craziness you were looking for? You are Janus. Let those kids keep the empty shell. You can make a new one!" (The Janus Cycle, p. 217)
That place is, Dinnusos.
"... Victorian, with high ceilings and sash windows. It's big, too. ... If the main bar ever gets too rowdy and you fancy some quiet, there's a whole labyrinth of rooms on the upper floors you can get lost in. One of the city's old canal ways runs along the back of the building." (Dinnusos, p. 14)
You can find Dinnusos in Yesterville:
"A place of urban decay and broken streetlamps. Vagrants and outcasts. Faded signposts and overgrown gardens. Thrifty means and humble dreams." (Dinnusos, p. 14)
Dinnusos is owned by Neal. Neal and Tristan became a couple in The Janus Cycle. Tristan is a painter and he has painted murals on most of Dinnusos' walls, murals that magically change during the story behaving as prophetic tools.
We reconnect with the paranormal members of Sunset Haze: Patrick (violin+half-fey), Faye (flute+dream walker), Jack (acoustic guitar+half-fey), and Ellen/Jessica (voice+medium/ghost). Neal lets them practice in one of the club's rooms in exchange for the occasional session downstairs. Their abilities draw people. We also reconnect with Tilly, Pandora and Frelia.
Tej Turner has used the same writing style he used in The Janus Cycle. Each chapter is told from a different person's point of view. That lets us catch up with the life of the individual and keeps the story going at the same time. Taxus Baccus (TB) is an environmental organization led by Jardair, Jack's wuduwāsa father (Turner plays with the Greek and Roman pantheons throughout the story). Until TB arrived at Jack's house, Jack and his pet squirrel, Nuttles, lived on their own. Their lives go from quiet to chaotic in a matter of hours. TB travels from town to town addressing, in their own way, environmental issues each town struggles with. Tej Turner uses Taxus Baccus to address the fragility of our supposed right to free speech and the right to live our lives as we wish.
"It seems to me that this country is run by sociopaths with gloating expressions and oily hair. They wander around Westminster with their leather briefcases, selling off public assets to their pals from boarding school and members of their extended family who have vested interests. All the while, class war is waged through an ever-encroaching succession of draconian legislations. They will not rest until they have rounded up everyone into the rat race because they, by fortune of birth, are the big cats. The the more rats there are, the more they have to dig their paws into." (Dinnusos, p 62)
Dinnusos Rising contends that it we, the general populace, make such methods possible through our complacency and docility. The percentage of people who turn up for various elections certainly seem to agree with that contention. Westminster uses various media to pimp their message to the public
"... the news channels and tabloids were doing their utmost to demonise us. Footage and photos were being carefully selected, and it seemed their cameras only had spare film for the more outrageous members f the movements ... They never told the public why were were doing the things we were doing. They made us seem like rebels without a cause." ... (Dinnusos, p. 72)
Through The National Conciliation Act, Westminster intends to cement the corporatocracy we see strengthening its hooks into various governments around the world.
"Later on we will be interviewing MP, Mr. Ben Fitzgerald, to see if he can shed any light upon rumours Westminster is considering bringing in new legislation which will grant authorities more power to dismantle anti-social behaviour." (Dinnusos, p. 92)
The NCA bans political demonstrations and movements like Taxus Baccata. It would give Westminster the power to shut down any business charity or organisation which was perceived as having a "subversive agenda". They could tighten restrictions on the internet. It would become illegal for employees to speak badly about the companies they work for, and turn civil disobedience into a criminal - rather than civil - offence.
Pandora's workplace, Fibertine Investment Bank, is a great example of a corporation that wants the NCA voted through. FIB invests in corporations around the world and outwardly appear to be concerned about ethical corporation issues. They even have their own Ethical Practices Officer. However, when Pandora tries to bring ethical issues to the attention of her boss, Mr. Watts, he reminds her of FIB's business motto:
"Business is blameless," ... there is no need to feel guilt, or worry about facing consequences. (Dinnusos, p. 92)
Corporatocracy is not the only topic Turner addresses. Friendship represented by Pandora and Frelia, Faye and Tilly, and Jack and Tilly is a complicated subject. Trust is betrayed, destructive and healthy decisions are made, and new beginnings are all part of the friendships in Dinnusos Rising. Turner also shows us individual experiences with self-harm, suicide ideation, drugs, abuse, sexuality, and gender. We see how falling in love may affect other relationships. Again, Tilly is the one who meets the most challenges. She is also the youngest of our characters.
Dinnusos Rises is well-edited, well written, has fleshed out characters, and presents current issues in a package filled with action and adventure. Both Dinnusos Rises and The Janus Cycle are excellent contributions in discussions about the above topics. Dinnusos Rises has my whole-hearted recommendation.
I was given an ARC copy to review.
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