AND PUT AWAY CHILDISH THINGS | ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY
Today, I am having a look of the most recent release by Adrian Tchaikovsky, And Put Away Childish Things.
Harry Bodie’s been called into the delightful
fantasy world of his grandmother’s beloved children’s books. It’s not
delightful here at all.
All roads lead to Underhill, where it’s always winter, and never nice.
Harry Bodie has a famous grandmother, who wrote beloved children’s books set in the delightful world of Underhill. Harry himself is a failing kids’ TV presenter whose every attempt to advance his career ends in self-sabotage. His family history seems to be nothing but an impediment.
An impediment... or worse. What if Underhill is real? What if it has been waiting decades for a promised child to visit? What if it isn’t delightful at all? And what if its denizens have run out of patience and are taking matters into their own hands?
Adrian Tchaikovsky is amazing, not only for the sheer output of books, or his ability to switch genres, it's the amazing versility that he shows. You see, I had just finished reading Dogs of War and immediately went into this book. From going from that book to this it's like it's like a different person is writing And Put Away Childish Things.
The story centres around Harry Brodie, a presenter in children's TV. Not only that, he is the sole heir to the estate of his famous grandmother who wrote a children's classic that is not dissimilar to a certain series that has lions, witches and wardrobes in it, except that it's a bit less famous.
When we meet Harry he is totally discontented with his lot in life. He feels that he has got more to offer in relation to his career, except that when he is not presenting, he is a bit of a waster, and kinda resembles Withnail in Withnail and I. He spends most of his time pissed, staving off the black dog of melancholy. And not only that he is continuously hounded by fans of the family heirloom.
Set just before the time that COVID is reaching it's pandemic status, Harry agrees to go on the books equivalent of Who do you think you are. During the filming of the programme he is shocked and stunned to discover that he is not the descendant of some old queen or other and that his grandmother, the author of the Underhill books was actually beset by mental health problems and that she spent time in a ye olde fashioned mental hell instition as she was thought to experience some form of psychosis. Suffice it to say is that instead of boosting his career as he first thought, his reaction to his family's deep dark secret virtually derails his career and there's the little matter of lockdown which also adds to his despair.
It's not long before things start to go pear shaped. Alone with only his own self to keep him company, Harry soon falls into bad habits and finds that the only way to cope with his situation is to seek solace at the bottom of a bottle. Which as you can guess makes things go from bad to worse and he starts to see his grandmother's fantastical creations at the bottom of his garden. This leads to him discovering that what was unreal has now become the real as he visits Underhill and discovers that instead of a land of whimsy like his grandmother wrote about, Underhill is in fact a dilapidated, decaying land that in actual fact a bit scary.
Full of caustic wit, And Put Away Childish Things was a thoroughly enjoyable little tale and I have to say I loved the way that Adrian Tchaikovsky just lets rip in this book. He perfectly captures the uncertainty and absurdity of lockdown and there was one bit that just had me howling with laughter. Not only that he shows the inanity of fandoms and the fervour that is at the heart of their beliefs.
The characters are fantastic, particularly Harry who whilst initially is an absolute nightmare, his journey forces him to grow up and put away childish things. And it must be said that even how bad Harry is at the start of the book, he is always a gentleman to his young fans and never denies them a photo opportunity.
With its mixture of absurdity, horror and nostalgia, I just loved And Put Away Childish Things, and I think it's one of my favourite Adrian Tchaikovsky books.