Five Wounds is released today in the UK. The official US release will follow shortly, although it is already available to buy in both countries (links are on the right). It is published by Allen & Unwin.
Five Wounds is fantasy noir, and is presented in a unique 'illuminated' format with many original illustrations created by Dan Hallett (see the video below for more information on the format). You can download the opening chapter for free here. Here is the publisher's synopsis of the story:
In a cruel and arbitrary world, where disturbing lapses in logic are commonplace, five orphans must face their traumatic origins.
Gabriella is a crippled angel, haunted by her inability to interpret prophecies. Cur is the rabid leader of a sect of dogs, desperate to escape his inheritance. Cuckoo is a gambler with a wax face determined to find a fixed identity before his luck runs out. Magpie is a thief in search of the perfect photographic subject, but terrified of going blind. Crow is a leper trying to distil the essence of death as an antidote to dying.
Each of them is deformed; each has a special ability; each is connected to all of the others. And each gets exactly what they deserve. Or do they?
Here are some quotations about the book:
In a world of increasing vacuity and self-concern, this beautiful illustrated edition of Five Wounds is like a medication - a mystical, elegant treatise on empathy that is at once also a novel and an anti-novel. It’s a turning-point book, but one that can live on a coffee-table like a beating heart. I’ve seen nothing so rare, curious and beautiful in a long time. – DBC Pierre, author of Vernon God Little and Lights Out in Wonderland
If I say this fable is peculiar, it’s a compliment. Not so much steampunk as, what? Canalpunk? This elaborate macabre book plays games, runs riddles, leaps in flights of fancy and dives down chasms of nightmare with Tarot, murder, jokes, and angels thrown in for good measure. The illustrations are Goya meets comic-book, the text is Perfume and Pan’s Labyrinth, Gogol, Calvino and Casanova’s memoirs of Venice all in one. Extraordinary. – Kate Holden, author of In My Skin and The Romantic
The template suggests an old-fashioned children’s classic: handsome proportions, elegant print, fancy chapter headings, centre plates on shiny paper. But a virus has gotten in there: the illustrations are nightmarish and hermetic, calling on the Tarot, Escher, psychotic heraldry, and the text here and there is scribbled through, the nice fonts mocked by scrawled block capitals. And the story likewise takes the blackness that underpins traditional fairytales and brings it front and centre. .... [T]he book takes you places, and the illustrations are wonderful. - Owen Richardson, review in The Age
Think back to your first trip with Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, or how it felt to enter the Matrix after Neo takes the red pill. Five Wounds: An Illuminated Novel takes you down a similarly twisting path and leaves you pondering the journey well afterwards. .... a thought-provoking and beautifully presented work. - Aliese Millington, review in Transnational Literature
The five senses are a common theme in Five Wounds and it seems fitting then, that it appeals to the senses in such detail. I have literally tried everything short of licking the book. The hardcover, thoughtful selection of paper stock and red ribbon page-marker makes the book seem like an artefact; it is a privilege to hold it. .... The scribblings peppered through out the book add to its mystery. I feel as if I am reading a diary, a draft, a spell book; something personal that was not meant for the eyes of others. .... [They] lend the book a desperate sense of urgency. - Dave Drayton, review at Vibewire
Here is a video interview (courtesy of the Wheeler Centre) about the unique format of Five Wounds:
I'll be posting some additional discussion about Five Wounds here over the next couple of months. I'll also be doing some guest posts on other blogs and sites, which I'll link to from here.