city of the beasts – isabel allende

A beautifully crafted tropical tale steeped in magic and adventure

Last week I finished my book the day after I had ordered a large delivery from Amazon, so I thought I’d make the most of working in Camden by popping along to the many charity shops, to pick up a ‘filler’ book to tide me over til my delivery arrived.

I am SO glad that I did, as City Of The Beasts is not a book I reckon I would ever have picked out online (although the cover is very pretty!).

£1.99 in the YMCA shop introduced me to Alexander Cold, a 15 year old American lad whose mother is dying from cancer, so he is shipped off to his grandmother’s while she is having chemo.  His grandmother is an explorer/writer and is off to the Amazon with a party put together by International Geographic Magazine trying to find evidence of a legendary ‘Beast’ (much like a yeti) that lives amongst the natives in an area hitherto unexplored by the developed world.  Alex discovers much to his horror that he is to go with her.

The story starts out as a tale of a young lad whose family are being torn apart and his relationship with his outspoken, uncompromising, well-traveled grandmother who just makes him fit into her life and plans.  He is the complete opposite of her, and initially finds the trip to the Amazon the stuff of nightmares.

For the first part of the book, I was loving the pace, loving the wonderful sights and sounds of the Amazon, and getting to know all the characters involved – it was a beautifully crafted jungle adventure…and then there is ‘an event’ (I don’t want to ruin it for anyone) and suddenly the book takes a turn and becomes this mystical tale, full of wonder and magic.

I can’t say how much I loved this book – it was a perfect ‘filler’, and I zoomed through it quicker than I do with most books.  Turning each page was a joy, and I never knew where it was going to take me.  It was also the perfect size – there wasn’t TOO much ‘depth’ – there were no flowery words just for the sake of padding it out and trying to be clever and arty – the story was very much ‘as it was’ – and I never felt that I had been cheated.

I usually race through paragraphs when I’m enjoying books, skim-reading just to get to the next good bit (I’m a bugger for that), but I actually believe I read near enough every word because it was relevant!

This is definitely my favourite book that I have read in recent months.

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