So here’s the premise. There is a group of people out there who have discovered a kind of magic in words. Words that can make you easily persuadable. Words that put you at their mercy. They call themselves “poets” – and take on the names of famous poets – Eliot, Bronte, Woolf and so on.
Two narratives dominate the story. The first is an Australian man who gets caught up with a group of poets who accuse him of escaping a near-catastrophic event in Broken Hill, where a Bear Word (which can command everyone) was let loose. The second concerns Emily, a street hustler who specialises in card tricks and fleecing you. Emily is invited into an academy where men and women are trained to be poets – but she doesn’t quite fit in.
You will guess early on in the narrative how and why these two storylines will merge, but it will spoil none of your reading. This is a clever and engaging text that holds back key points for maximum dramatic impact. Word lovers will enjoy the exercises in the academy as well as the well-paced plot. While this wont win any awards for subtlety, it was an enjoyable adventure which I found myself mentioning to reading friends.