Neil Gaiman’s review of Gene Wolfe’s THE SORCERER’S HOUSE
Discovered at GOODREADS
Caveat: This book is dedicated to me, so I may well be immediately biased in its favour.
It’s an epistolary novel. Very dark, very strange, dislocating and dream-like. An ex-prisoner has inherited (or has he?) an abandoned house, containing a were-fox, a ghostly butler, and, possibly, the contents of the Tarot. Twins occur and reoccur, identities are exchanged, people are not what they appear to be…
I’m loving it, but am reading it only a few pages at a time, to make it last.
Right, I finished it. And now, more than anything else, I want to read it again. Some of the twists, yes, I guessed, but the full way the book opens out made me start to reread immediately. I think the book, like the house, is bigger than it first appears.
As a side note, I have a mad theory that you can always find a Wolf in a Gene Wolfe book, and it will always be the key, or a key, to the text. This book does nothing to disprove my theory.
Am now rereading. I love the patterns in the book. (I spoke about the tarot earlier: the book consists of two sets of 22 chapters, a doubled set of trumps). I love that a lazy reader would read a book that is not as good as the one that Gene Wolfe wrote, while a reader who is working gets a book that, like the Sorcerer’s House itself, appears small and straightforward, and then grows on the inside.
Gene Wolfe once defined good literature as (I quote from memory) something that can be read with pleasure by an educated reader, and reread with increased pleasure, and this is one of those.
My comment: This is one of my favorite Gene Wolfe books, right after his SHADOW OF THE TORTURER and ON BLUE’S WATER. I have recently reread it, and will probably write up some of my own thoughts in the coming week. For the moment, I will but concur with Mr Gaiman that Mr Wolfe’s definition of good literature matches with C.S. Lewis’ (A NEW THEORY OF CRITICISM) and my own.