Review: The Murdstone Trilogy

The Murdstone Trilogy
The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb for The Murdstone Trilogy was funny and conveyed a sense of easy reading. The gushing praise promised a rollicking black comedy filled with warmth and gusto. But it was the ‘terribly clever’ quote tucked away on the inside cover that I should have paid attention to: this book was just too clever for me.

The idea of ‘channelling’ an entire trilogy from another realm, where the events are actually happening, is an interesting premise. But it’s aimed at people who don’t like fantasy and who’ll appreciate a smug laugh at reducing the genre to its formula, not someone like me who likes to get lost in a story and enjoy the escapism.

There were some good lines of ordinary humour and even a good fart joke set in a monastery, but generally the language is at a literary level:

Doctor Paragus spoke for several minutes in a strangely modulating voice that resembled the upper register of an oboe.


Pocket sat silently contemplating his amenuensis for a second or two.

Or a two-thirds-of-a-page description of a photo in which Murdstone is ‘Byronically’ posed.

The language was difficult to follow with heavy words like oleaginous, cynosure, saturnalia (not what I expect in a ‘read it whatever your age’ novel of ‘huge fun’); mixed in with arduously spelt-out Yorkshire accents (‘He musta had that bit a rumpy a his from Lunnen waiting outside on the yeller lines’ and ‘Buy a swatter an aller the inseck spray they’re got on the shelf’); with occasional smut and general cussing.

Towards the end is a multi-page summary of the trilogy which read like someone else’s long-winded summary of a hugely complex epic: I skimmed it.

It’s as though the book has ‘something for everyone’ leaving very little for me.

View all my reviews

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