Thursday, 6 April 2017
The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott Review
Well, that was an underwhelming load of nothing! Jake Arnott takes us back to early 18th century England where we follow the uninteresting lives of Edgworth Bess, a prostitute and thief, and her man Jack Sheppard, a thief, two star-crossed ragamuffins destined for the gallows - or are they…?
It’d have been nice if there was a story here! Bess wanders about the grotty underside of London until she meets Jack and then the pair of them aimlessly wander about London together. They occasionally bust out of the crappy jails they had back then. You get an idea of the underworld structure. That’s it. There’s also a boring subplot about a gay writer, the upshot of which is that gay dudes were persecuted back in the day. Woah, you mean like how they’ve always been historically? Fascinating… dammit, my eyes rolled out of my head again!
I appreciate the enormous effort Arnott’s put into writing the book with authentic 18th century lingo, the effect of which is like reading A Clockwork Orange where you’re baffled at first but gradually pick up the words’ meanings; still, I’d have much preferred a story and/or a point worth reading. As it is, The Fatal Tree is fatally boring and forgettable. Disappointing too as Arnott’s last novel, The House of Rumour, was superb - I recommend reading that one instead of this tedious tosh!