The Alehouse at the End of the World
When a fisherman receives a mysterious letter about his beloved's demise, he sets off in his skiff to find her. A whale swallows him, then deposits him on the Isle of the Dead, which is ruled by a trio of giant bird gods. The fisherman must negotiate with the self-proclaimed leader -- a narcissistic, bullying crow -- to return his beloved to physical form. In "The Alehouse at the End of the World," an epic comedy set in the sixteenth century, bawdy Shakespearian love triangles play out with shapeshifting avian demigods and a fertility goddess, drunken revelry, and bio-dynamic gardening. A raucous, aw-aw-aw-awe-inspiring romp, Stevan Allred's second book is a juicy fable for adults and a hopeful tale for troubled times.

The Alehouse at the End of the World Details

TitleThe Alehouse at the End of the World
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 11th, 2018
PublisherForest Avenue Press
ISBN-139781942436379
Rating
GenreFiction, Fantasy, Humor

The Alehouse at the End of the World Review

  • Michael Ferro
    January 1, 1970
    Over at Heavy Feather Review, I had the true pleasure to review Stevan Allred's new novel, THE ALEHOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD (Forest Avenue Press). Folks, this one is a doozy: a medieval-esque fantasy tale set to the tune of Monty Python that is both hilarious and enlightening. A story of tyrants, friendship, and perseverance that is not only brilliant and fun, but quite timely in this modern America:"Though the antagonist of this book is an egotistical crow god hellbent on ruling the Isle of Over at Heavy Feather Review, I had the true pleasure to review Stevan Allred's new novel, THE ALEHOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD (Forest Avenue Press). Folks, this one is a doozy: a medieval-esque fantasy tale set to the tune of Monty Python that is both hilarious and enlightening. A story of tyrants, friendship, and perseverance that is not only brilliant and fun, but quite timely in this modern America:"Though the antagonist of this book is an egotistical crow god hellbent on ruling the Isle of the Dead through fear, intimidation, and a demand for blind admiration, it should come as no surprise that the story draws some immediate parallels to the orange man who currently sits in the oval office."FULL REVIEW: https://heavyfeatherreview.org/2018/1...
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  • Gerry
    January 1, 1970
    Once again I am confused by publishing dates but hey ho. Netgalley tells me this is released on the 16th November but Goodreads tells me its 11th November so I’ll go with that.I am also confused by this book. Sorry.I picked it up because something about it seemed very Terry Pratchett esque and from what I’ve read since, I am not the only person who got that vibe. I think it’s something to do with the merging of fables/ Shakespeare/ comedy and human foibles which is something that Terry Pratchett Once again I am confused by publishing dates but hey ho. Netgalley tells me this is released on the 16th November but Goodreads tells me its 11th November so I’ll go with that.I am also confused by this book. Sorry.I picked it up because something about it seemed very Terry Pratchett esque and from what I’ve read since, I am not the only person who got that vibe. I think it’s something to do with the merging of fables/ Shakespeare/ comedy and human foibles which is something that Terry Pratchett did amazingly well at.Now don’t get me wrong, Terry Pratchett is inimitable and to be fair, The Alehouse at the End of the World doesn’t advertise itself as being like Terry Pratchett in any way. But it’s interesting that I wasn’t the only person who was thinking along the Pratchett lines.It’s nothing like a Terry Pratchett book. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. Thinking it would vibe the same. In some ways yes, it did. It’s quirky and highly imaginative and if you took a bunch of LSD and went to an aviary I’m sure the experience you would have there is similar to the experience you would have reading this book.A trippy head funk involving a lot of birds.This is billed (no pun intended, ok maybe a little pun intended) as a bawdy comedy. Now comedy is hard and very subjective. If you found this book funny than you will rate it higher than what I am rating. Unfortunately I didn’t find it funny. When something is a comedy that’s a problem and it’s a problem that I couldn’t overcome.I wasn’t too sure where the humour was supposed to be derived from – was it the excessive mentions of the crow eating up body parts of dead humans and his obsession with the nipples and scrota? Was it how drunk they all got when an alehouse was finally built? Was it the constant references to the bird god’s bulging loincloths?!That is the other thing I just couldn’t gel with. There was so much crudity. This is coming from someone who has written smut in fiction. Ahem. But I swear I am no prude. I just didn’t enjoy the over sexualisation of the female characters and the constant mention of their breasts. I counted how many times the word ‘breast’ featured in one paragraph and it was five. Five.Boobs. This book was about boobs. And worse… it was about boobs on bird women. Maybe I’m missing something here but I guess I just didn’t need descriptions of sexy bird women or the explanation that bird men have massive penises. Am I allowed to say penis in a review? Am I allowed to say it in an ARC review?!The sex scenes were plentiful and uncomfortable and unfortunately this book used one of the tropes that I hate the most in the world and used it for humour. We are talking ‘The Bed Trick’ where someone pretends to be someone else in order to bed a person. I don’t like it when it’s used flippantly and for ‘fun’. It’s personal preference but I don’t. Sorry.A male character beats a female character. This same male character spews some nasty things about women. I understand that this character is not nice and his actions and viewpoints are not presented as a good thing but the female characters desire, admire and love him all the same and again…. I didn’t like it. I understand the message is, ‘you can’t help who you desire or love’, but there was almost a vibe of, ‘oh well, you know what he’s like,’ about it.For me the plot was a little on the slow side and the big battle didn’t really have much in the way of build up. It was definitely more of a sexy, bed swapping tale between bird people and reanimated souls than a fight to see who would control the Isle of the Dead and who would save the world from being swallowed up.I’ll stop now because I feel like I’m beating a dead corvid with a stick and they don’t deserve that because corvid’s are awesome.The authors imagination is boundless and I’m sure that more inventive and quirky stories will present themselves but sadly this one just wasn’t for me.
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  • Dianah
    January 1, 1970
    There's all manner of craziness in The Alehouse at the End of the World: a giant beast who's swallowed the spirit world, a hairless blue fisherman, a trio of shape-shifting god-birds, a self-aggrandizing (Trumpian?) crow, The Isle of the Dead, a feathered goddess, and a dead woman who's.... well, you'll see. Yet underneath these fantastical guises, lie the same hearts that can be found in all of us; some are kind, some are driven, some are evil, some are insatiable, and in spite of their non-hum There's all manner of craziness in The Alehouse at the End of the World: a giant beast who's swallowed the spirit world, a hairless blue fisherman, a trio of shape-shifting god-birds, a self-aggrandizing (Trumpian?) crow, The Isle of the Dead, a feathered goddess, and a dead woman who's.... well, you'll see. Yet underneath these fantastical guises, lie the same hearts that can be found in all of us; some are kind, some are driven, some are evil, some are insatiable, and in spite of their non-human forms, they are all so very human. In this magical world, the net of a dark fate tightens around the existence of this motley crew, and an apocalypse brews on the horizon.This is why adults still need fairy tales: there are some archetypes more familiar than our own faces, and they help us survive, they teach us to live, they compel us to grow. Allred has the sly and quixotic writing chops to pull off this charming story, which is both wickedly funny and achingly poignant. He manages his characters as well as a puppeteer, and imbues them with such heartfelt passion and pathos, it's mesmerizing. Do not miss this delightful tale that will remind you how precious humanity is, in whichever form you find it. Bravo!
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  • Tracy Rowan
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not entirely sure what to say about this book because while it intrigued and amused me, it also often flummoxed me. I will say that it was never what I expected, and that's often a good thing in terms of my reading. Stevan Allred has produced a novel that often reads like an R-rated cross between a Shakespearean comedy and Alice in Wonderland, a world run by bird gods and goddesses. There's also a good deal of sex, and some excellent ale.The man, a sailor and fisherman, learns that his belov I'm not entirely sure what to say about this book because while it intrigued and amused me, it also often flummoxed me. I will say that it was never what I expected, and that's often a good thing in terms of my reading. Stevan Allred has produced a novel that often reads like an R-rated cross between a Shakespearean comedy and Alice in Wonderland, a world run by bird gods and goddesses. There's also a good deal of sex, and some excellent ale.The man, a sailor and fisherman, learns that his beloved has died, and goes to the afterlife to find her. Right away we get an updated Orpheus riff when the fisherman discovers that his beloved's soul is hidden in a clamshell in the sand, waiting for her rebirth. But he wants her back, and to that end, he has to find a woman who can wet-nurse the little clam-soul back to life.  But that isn't the end of his quest because there's an enormous creature that is poised to devour the universe unless he helps a fertility goddess, two bird gods, and a six-foot frigate bird destroy it. There's always a catch, isn't there?Allred's imagination is vivid, colored by what feels like an encyclopedic knowledge of myth and religion, pop culture, literature, and more. The novel is funny, bawdy, thoughtful and forthright. It won my admiration by placing the female characters at the heart of the story, and allowing them the freedom to both discover and indulge their sexuality without judgment.  And there are love stories aplenty, not just romantic/sexual love, but the love of friends. It's rich and rewarding if you are patient with the unfolding of the story.  And if you are, if you finish the book, I'm guessing you'll be surprised by the ending, and not a little moved by it. It is so very unexpected, and so very right.
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  • Doug Chase
    January 1, 1970
    I was fortunate to read an early galley of Stevan Allred’s new book. It is amazing. A fable, an adventure, a story filled with treats for us lovers of words and culture and the world. This is one of the rare books I never wanted to end. Completely satisfying, dramatic, hilarious, a wonderful world. I’ll buy a lot of copies for my holiday gift list.
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  • Ann-Marie
    January 1, 1970
    There is an old definition that says in a comedy the characters have some control over their own destiny, and in a tragedy they have none. By that definition, a tragedy can be roaringly funny and a comedy can have you in tears."The Ale house At The End of the World" is presented as a comic tale, which is confusing to some people. It is not funny. It is ironic, sarcastic, it has some laughs, but it is not, as some people were hoping, "Terry Pratchett like.At times this tale is not even very likea There is an old definition that says in a comedy the characters have some control over their own destiny, and in a tragedy they have none. By that definition, a tragedy can be roaringly funny and a comedy can have you in tears."The Ale house At The End of the World" is presented as a comic tale, which is confusing to some people. It is not funny. It is ironic, sarcastic, it has some laughs, but it is not, as some people were hoping, "Terry Pratchett like.At times this tale is not even very likeable. The characters are selfinterested, self absorbed, selfish, dishonished, and way too obsessed with sex. In fact, the entire second third of the book is giant romping, her hopping orgy. It got tiresome.But it was so beautifully written. The imagery was so perfect. The reader was swept off to The Isle of the Dead.She could smell the smoke of the fires and the stench of the breath of the evil beast. The book dragged at points, but you could just sleep with the characters and forgive the slow pace."The Ale house At The End of the World" is not a mass appeal speculative fiction book but for its niche market it should be very well received. I received this book free from Netgalley free in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Julene
    January 1, 1970
    Stevan Allred is a favorite author, so I was excited when his new book came out even though it is not the kind of book I usually read. After reading it I'm wondering why I don't read more fantasy novels!He is a master writer paying attention to every detail. To disclose, I studied with Stevan when he was one of the Dangerous Writers (with Tom Spanbauer) in Portand. I love his description at the back of the book, he got up early each morning before the sun rose, lit a candle and wrote into the da Stevan Allred is a favorite author, so I was excited when his new book came out even though it is not the kind of book I usually read. After reading it I'm wondering why I don't read more fantasy novels!He is a master writer paying attention to every detail. To disclose, I studied with Stevan when he was one of the Dangerous Writers (with Tom Spanbauer) in Portand. I love his description at the back of the book, he got up early each morning before the sun rose, lit a candle and wrote into the day. He has crafted a spirtual world with talking birds that turn human, a serpent that ate the spirtual world and sits on a log that is the earth we know! The earth of course is at risk of being eaten as well. Birds talk and turn into full characters: a cormorant, a pelican, a frigate bird, a raven, and of course a fertility goddess who flies. There are two humans, a fisherman who goes to the Isle of the Dead, in this spirit world, to find his beloved who has died. The Raven has taken over and he is a vindictive narcissist, but will bargain and he is an obstacle to be overcome. The fisherman gets his beloved's soul, in the form of all souls, a clam, that must be nursed by breast milk to be reborn. The fertility goddess, Dewi Sri, has been sent on a mission to save earth and she provides the milk and the sexual espinage that ensues. She provides liberated, transcendant sexuality that we witness in this other world that is also full of jealously and emotions that accompany such goings on. Of course a soul released from a body does not hold memory, so the beloved does not remember the fisherman. She holds memories in her physical body but not her brain. The raven is a stud as well as a crook. I don't want to spoil this, but the world is saved by the efforts of this group and there is much about courage and true love to encounter in this brilliant writing of time travel, and mythic proportion. It may be too X rated to make it into a movie, but a good movie it would make.
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  • Duane Gosser
    January 1, 1970
    This book started off well but fell off hard. Story ran out way before the book ended. Also, the author is apparently trapped somewhere in middle school based on the number of times and way he worked fecal and genital references and jokes into the story. Once again beware of books that have a "amazing story blah blah" by Kirkus Reviews on front cover
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  • Tanya
    January 1, 1970
    "Can you not tell me what I must do?" "Perhaps I can look it up," said the cormorant. He produced a book from under his wing, Mortimer’s Compleat Atlas of the Afterlife ... [loc. 891]A fisherman (never named) has been living on a desert island, shipwrecked. He receives a letter from his beloved (never named: hardly anyone has names: the fisherman calls her Cariña, but that is just his pet name for her), with a covering note informing him of her death. He has not seen her for years: but, determin "Can you not tell me what I must do?" "Perhaps I can look it up," said the cormorant. He produced a book from under his wing, Mortimer’s Compleat Atlas of the Afterlife ... [loc. 891]A fisherman (never named) has been living on a desert island, shipwrecked. He receives a letter from his beloved (never named: hardly anyone has names: the fisherman calls her Cariña, but that is just his pet name for her), with a covering note informing him of her death. He has not seen her for years: but, determined to find her again, he sets out in an unseaworthy craft -- convinced that he'll die in a storm -- to seek her on the Isle of the Dead.Then he is swallowed by a whale, and deposited on the shore of the Isle of the Dead, which is currently governed by a scornful and narcissistic crow. This crow, together with his companions (a pitying pelican and a curious cormorant), turns out to be a shapeshifter, and possibly a demigod. The crow is wholly unhelpful, but the fisherman does finally understand that the dead arrive nightly, by canoe, on this island -- which has been swallowed, whole, by the fearsome Kiamah beast after the death of the Old Gods -- and have their souls harvested by the crow and their bodies burnt. The souls become clams, and return to the material world to be reborn. But the fisherman can't imagine how he can locate the soul of his beloved. And the birds -- including the most likeable character here, a six-foot-tall frigate bird (no name) with a spyglass and a pistola -- anticipate a fearsome cosmological event.There is also a fertility goddess, Dewi Sri, and some ethereal beings known as the Turropsi, the weavers of fate. There are invented words, and words that are deliciously obscure. There are love triangles, disguises, and indulgence in pleasures licit and otherwise. This is a world that reminds me of Pacific Northwest mythology, with overtones of late medieval travellers' tales and a surreal ambience that's sometimes humorous, and sometimes bleak.It's taken me months to read. It also felt far, far longer than it actually is. That may just be an artefact of reading so slowly. I'm still not sure why it didn't engage me. Perhaps it's the lack of names? Perhaps the misogyny of some of the characters? (A man is unfaithful. A woman is unfaithful. Guess who dies at the end?) A imaginative, vivid fantasy that, for me, fell flat.I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley, in exchange for this honest review.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.DNF at 43%The premise of The Alehouse at the End of the World immediately caught my attention. Boasting the underworld (of a sorts), talking birds, and fate, I hoped this would be a sort of Terry Pratchett-esque romp full of funny asides and satire. There definitely are funny asides -- the footnotes were one of the elements of the story I found the most entertaining -- but Alehouse doesn't quite feel like Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.DNF at 43%The premise of The Alehouse at the End of the World immediately caught my attention. Boasting the underworld (of a sorts), talking birds, and fate, I hoped this would be a sort of Terry Pratchett-esque romp full of funny asides and satire. There definitely are funny asides -- the footnotes were one of the elements of the story I found the most entertaining -- but Alehouse doesn't quite feel like a romp.The story follows an unnamed fisherman who travels to the Isle of the Dead with the hopes of rescuing his beloved. Things do not go according to plan, partially because the Isle of the Dead has come under new leadership at the hands of the boasting crow. There are lots of references to myths and ancient civilizations that have informed the interesting underworld the author created in Alehouse. A lot of these references went right over my head, but someone who is well-versed in these texts would probably gain a lot more enjoyment from this book. Perhaps the biggest thing I couldn't get beyond was the treatment of the female characters in this story. It's worth mentioning that things could get better, since I didn't finish the story, but the three female characters lacked the depth and autonomy given to the male characters. These females exist in the book primarily as objects to be coveted by the males. Two out of three perfectly fall into the tropes of doting caregiver and sex object. The fisherman's beloved does have a bit more nuance to her (view spoiler)[but the fisherman's aggressive desire to win her back even though she keeps telling him no made me deeply uncomfortable. (hide spoiler)] The male characters are given complex motivations and funny lines of dialogue. The females? Not so much. This only got worse as the book went on and was one of the largest reasons I quit reading. The Alehouse at the End of the World is by no means a bad book, just one that wasn't for me. I would describe this more as a literary work than a fantastical one, as the fantasy elements don't play a huge role in the story and serve mainly to support the classical-feeling plot. If you really like descriptive writing and references to lesser-known mythology, Alehouse executes those elements well. Overall, this is a character-driven story that has the feel of a classic epic poem rather than a fantasy novel.
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  • Kendra
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to like this book. It's elegantly written and has some very interesting ideas about the nature of self and life and death, and makes use of historically-relevant metaphorical figures. But it is dull, and it is repetitive, and all of the elegance and metaphor in the world can't help it move along a little faster and in a way that makes any of the characters seem anything but cardboard.
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  • Savannah
    January 1, 1970
    Oh man, it took me ages to get into this book. The first 100 pages were a slog. I wasn't attached to any of the characters and the monotony made it difficult to get/keep interest. But, after page 100 or so, it was like the book flipped a switch and it was suddenly interesting and there was a problem to solve that was worth my attention. 2.5/5 stars really, just rounding up.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    A romp; great for a beach read (if you like kitschy pulp), but about 70% of the way through, you will have it figured out and will be ready to move on.
  • Elisabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Annoying characters, dull world, non-existent story. Humor is mostly scatalogical. Probably better if you're familiar with the source material.
  • Shelly מרינו
    January 1, 1970
    I didn’t know quite what to make of this. It’s a very strange allegory and/but it kept me reading. Amazing use of language, incredible vocabulary. This would be a fun guy to hang out with. What an imagination!
  • Caitlin Farley
    January 1, 1970
    A thoughtful look at romantic relationships and what makes a hero.A fisherman gladly gives up everything to join his beloved on the Isle of the Dead, but nothing is even close to what he expected to find when he gets there. His beloved Carina’s soul lies hidden in one of the many clams buried along the shore of the Isle of the Dead and to find it he’ll have to make a deal with the cunning and tyrannical Crow god who rules here. I’m quite fond of the mythological concept wherein people travel to A thoughtful look at romantic relationships and what makes a hero.A fisherman gladly gives up everything to join his beloved on the Isle of the Dead, but nothing is even close to what he expected to find when he gets there. His beloved Carina’s soul lies hidden in one of the many clams buried along the shore of the Isle of the Dead and to find it he’ll have to make a deal with the cunning and tyrannical Crow god who rules here. I’m quite fond of the mythological concept wherein people travel to the realm of the dead in search of lost loves, but that journey is almost incidental to the plot. There are far greater stakes at play in the fisherman’s quest to return to the material world with Carina. The Kiamah, a mighty beast born from the hatred and bloodshed of a mighty war, has devoured the entire spiritual world. The bird gods of the Isle of the Dead: the vicious Crow, scholarly Cormorant, matronly Pelican, and swashbuckling Frigate, have thus far prevented it from swallowing the material world as well by feeding it soporific conaria. The Alehouse at the End of the World is a lyrical, lovable novel but the pace is a lot slower than what I’m used to. That was a challenge for me although it was ultimately outweighed by the many aspects I loved about this novel. To avoid any risk of spoilers, I’m going to list these elements with as little context as possible: Sex that is as saucy as you’d expect with a fertility goddess involved, yet never veers close to being pornographic. This includes an absence of fantasy bodies and fantasy lust in the mixed group of bird gods, fertility goddess, and people engaging in it. It got a bit much for me at times but works in general. While this is the fisherman’s tale for the most part, he’s not the only hero in this story. One could even argue that he’s the least of the heroes in this novel. Nor are the true heroes the ones you see coming.There is a literal alehouse at the end of the world.It’s dark and rather brutal at times. The Crow is a spiteful, cunning, narcissist of the most dangerous variety.The ouroborous was a very nice touch.Altogether, The Alehouse at the End of the World is a satisfying, leisurely read with interesting rhythms and invented words to satisfy literary fiction fans as well as solid mythological concepts for fantasy fans.Book provided by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
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  • Rouyuan
    January 1, 1970
    Although wildly inventive and unique, enjoyment is not a term I'd associate with this book. I like weird books, I like crazy ideas, I like things that diverge as far as possible from the norm with unabashed confidence—but this book was somehow still a struggle for me despite how open I was to it. To start with the good, Stevan Allred is a tremendously skilled writer when it comes to his prose. The writing is pinpoint precise, and he has an obvious knack for words, producing a style I did like re Although wildly inventive and unique, enjoyment is not a term I'd associate with this book. I like weird books, I like crazy ideas, I like things that diverge as far as possible from the norm with unabashed confidence—but this book was somehow still a struggle for me despite how open I was to it. To start with the good, Stevan Allred is a tremendously skilled writer when it comes to his prose. The writing is pinpoint precise, and he has an obvious knack for words, producing a style I did like reading—clear and concise, without being simple or generic or filtered down to cater to the lowest common denominator. Along with that, he fused together some unique ideas in this book, and I did particularly appreciate the addition of South East Asian myths and legends. However, the other aspects of the book failed to deliver. The book had a grand, mythic atmosphere to it, but the bawdy humour injected throughout felt tonally dissonant. Although the description promised humour, every instance of it fell flat for me. The plot didn't quite grasp my attention, and the characters were severely lacking. As another reviewer mentioned, the way the female characters were handled in this book was off-putting. The overly frequent descriptions of their breasts and other physical attributes, the strangely sexual narration of even entirely banal activities—it all came together to make for a slightly uncomfortable read. And I'm not gonna lie, the whole woman/bird sex bits just weren't my thing (yes, yes, she's a winged goddess, so she's kind of half-bird in a way, but that doesn't change the fact her body is still mostly humanoid. The book lovingly describes it in detail, after all, with extensive consideration of her apparently fantastic chest). If you want something entirely new and odd and creative, try this book. If you want something that's not typically found in the fantasy genre of late, give this a shot. It's not a bad book, it just wasn't for me. But if characters with depth and an engaging narrative are requirements for you, I wouldn't recommend this.
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  • Colin Hardy
    January 1, 1970
    This book is steeped in mythologies, from the Americas through to the Far East and even Ouroborous. The story is based outside of the 'real' world but with recurrent echoes of things that will be familiar to the reader. All of the characters are unique, but offer reflections on human strengths and frailties, particularly those associated with relationships and attraction. The world-building is interesting and shows how these different mythoi can be woven together. The plot is based on the goals This book is steeped in mythologies, from the Americas through to the Far East and even Ouroborous. The story is based outside of the 'real' world but with recurrent echoes of things that will be familiar to the reader. All of the characters are unique, but offer reflections on human strengths and frailties, particularly those associated with relationships and attraction. The world-building is interesting and shows how these different mythoi can be woven together. The plot is based on the goals of the various protagonists. Although there are central characters there is really no hero/heroine with which the reader can align. As such, there is little empathy for anyone and the reader is drawn along with the story without affinity for any individual. This reduces the reader's vested interest in what is going on.Sex is a common theme throughout and the descriptions are explicit but tend to use obscure language to dissipate the impact and get the reader to reach for the dictionary or appendix. Heterosexual and Sapphic love are explored and discussed between various individuals as the story unfolds, but the language used keeps the reader at a distance.There is a steady pace to the story, but with no real sense of tension, this is the sort of book that can be picked up and put down at any point without the need to complete a particular scene. Although the book is divided into sections that are thematic these do not really add to the structure of the story.The story is resolved with some characters achieving a sense of self-worth through sacrifice. That 'good' wins out is not surprising given the thematic nature of the tale. The remaining characters are not given a happily ever after but rather the opportunity to create their own mythology. All of this is tied up quite quickly compared to the rest of the book and this could feel unsatisfactory.The rating would be more of a 3.5 than a 4
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  • Alan
    January 1, 1970
    ‘We are all of us but parts of a pattern not of our own making.’Stevan Allred’s new book promises much, but does it deliver? This is the story of an unnamed fisherman who learns of his wife’s death and sets off to the Isle of the Dead to find her soul and bring her home. Here be shape-shifting bird deities, a usurping Crow who acts as despot, and as the tale develops we are bombarded by any amount of myths and allusions which direct the action. Eastern and Western mythologies combine: we have a ‘We are all of us but parts of a pattern not of our own making.’Stevan Allred’s new book promises much, but does it deliver? This is the story of an unnamed fisherman who learns of his wife’s death and sets off to the Isle of the Dead to find her soul and bring her home. Here be shape-shifting bird deities, a usurping Crow who acts as despot, and as the tale develops we are bombarded by any amount of myths and allusions which direct the action. Eastern and Western mythologies combine: we have a ‘pilgrim’ descending into an underworld, tales of creation, goddesses, Edenic existence and a ‘fall’, a war to rival Milton’s War in Heaven or Tolkien’s great battle scenes… Into all of this mix Allred throws humorous footnotes and bawdy – even explicit – sexual encounters.Does it all work? I’m so far out of my comfort zone with a book like this – it is not what I usually read, but isn’t it good to try something different? If you like fantasy novels I can see this appealing to you – although some reviews I have read said people were expecting a world like Terry Pratchett’s but were disappointed. There are plenty of references to other literatures and philosophies that it can be quite rewarding to recognise some as they come along. But, as a whole, I was left wondering if it all amounted to more or less of the sum of the parts and, to be honest, I thought it was OK, but just OK. I didn’t care enough for the central characters of the fisherman and his wife, and while it could be read as a novel reflecting some issues of our turbulent times I felt that the author perhaps tried too hard to throw everything but the kitchen sink to make his point. I’m glad I read it, and I would encourage others to do so, but I can only rate it 3 stars I think, given my reservations. (With thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for an ARC in return for an honest and unbiased review.)
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  • Kate (Looking Glass Reads)
    January 1, 1970
    Despite the prose being nice, this simply isn't holding my attention. There are a plethora of unnamed characters, none of whom I feel any sort affinity to. Perhaps I'll come back to it one day, but for now, it's going to remain unfinished.
  • Vivienne
    January 1, 1970
    My thanks to Forest Avenue Press for an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.A fisherman receives a letter telling of the death of his lost love and then travels Orpheus-like to the Isle of the Dead to find her. There he encounters a group of avian shape-shifting demigods and a fertility goddess. Adventures follow, including a fair few erotic encounters. There’s also an adversary in the form of a crow, a petty tyrant living up to the crow’s archetypical role of trickster.While I lo My thanks to Forest Avenue Press for an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.A fisherman receives a letter telling of the death of his lost love and then travels Orpheus-like to the Isle of the Dead to find her. There he encounters a group of avian shape-shifting demigods and a fertility goddess. Adventures follow, including a fair few erotic encounters. There’s also an adversary in the form of a crow, a petty tyrant living up to the crow’s archetypical role of trickster.While I loved the concept I have to admit that I struggled for a time to engage with the narrative, though this improved as I continued and became more invested in the characters.I appreciated that Allred was creating a fable or myth-like story combining strands from Eastern and Western traditions with original ideas. Given its structure and the rich descriptions I feel it would have worked better for me as an audiobook. Brought to mind sitting around a (metaphoric) campfire while a storyteller weaves this strange tale.The cover and illustrations are stunning and there is a rather hallucinatory feel to the story. Early on the delightful frigate bird (my favourite among the bird characters) offers the fisherman some hashish and I felt that summed up the ambiance of the story. Weird, witty and certainly bawdy.I feel it’s the type of novel that will polarise readers. I tried to weigh up what appealed to me against times I just felt disconnected, so decided on 3 stars. I would suggest potential readers sample it to see if the style is a good fit for them.
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  • Lili
    January 1, 1970
    From Negalley for review:I was intrigued by the description of this book, a strange dream-logic style story creating its own mythology, something right up my alley when it comes to fiction. I enjoyed the story and found the characters weird but in a fascinating way, what didn't make this a five-star for me was the writing style. There was nothing wrong with it, it was just the very stylized voice didn't really click with my brain while reading and I had to force myself to focus. I will say it is From Negalley for review:I was intrigued by the description of this book, a strange dream-logic style story creating its own mythology, something right up my alley when it comes to fiction. I enjoyed the story and found the characters weird but in a fascinating way, what didn't make this a five-star for me was the writing style. There was nothing wrong with it, it was just the very stylized voice didn't really click with my brain while reading and I had to force myself to focus. I will say it is worth the read for the weirdness alone!
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  • Desiree
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this was an interesting take on the Shakespearean comedy. Readers who are unfamiliar with the difference between a Shakespearean comedy and a modern comedy should know that this book is not going to be funny in the way you’re looking for. Shakespearean comedies pertain more to struggling lovers, love triangles, deception, and reunification. They are light hearted but not necessarily funny. This book has all of the above in spades and I found it highly entertaining. I also enjoyed the w I thought this was an interesting take on the Shakespearean comedy. Readers who are unfamiliar with the difference between a Shakespearean comedy and a modern comedy should know that this book is not going to be funny in the way you’re looking for. Shakespearean comedies pertain more to struggling lovers, love triangles, deception, and reunification. They are light hearted but not necessarily funny. This book has all of the above in spades and I found it highly entertaining. I also enjoyed the way the author portrayed the afterlife. I’m not going to discuss details so as not to spoil anything but I haven’t seen life after death quite like this before. I’m always interested in new takes on old tropes, there are so many books and movies out there today that are just remakes of an older work or ideas that have already been done to death it’s refreshing to read something that feels new and different. I will say that it took me a little while to get into the book. I picked it up and put it down a couple of times. The beginning sort of dragged on a little for me. Once you get to the second book things get much more interesting and I found it to be an enjoyable read from there. I will say that there are some sexually explicit scenes so be forewarned if that makes you uncomfortable this may not be the book for you.
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  • Craig Russo
    January 1, 1970
    I was fond of a lot of things about this story. The way the author (and narrator) made it sound like some Arabian tale. And the way it realistically portrayed lust and the way we justify it in our own minds, regardless of the harm it does to others.
  • Chelz Lor
    January 1, 1970
    **A thank you to Net Galley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review**For a full review that goes into detail about why I find sex with bird men super weird you can go to my website ChelzLor.comThe writing is top notch and is the reason for those two precious stars on this review. The author is a master word caster and I hope to find something of his I can read without cringing someday. This was not the day.The story is mostly sex with bird men and women intermixed with a supposed t **A thank you to Net Galley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review**For a full review that goes into detail about why I find sex with bird men super weird you can go to my website ChelzLor.comThe writing is top notch and is the reason for those two precious stars on this review. The author is a master word caster and I hope to find something of his I can read without cringing someday. This was not the day.The story is mostly sex with bird men and women intermixed with a supposed true love, adultery, misogyny, sexism, and domestic abuse. Again, more detail in my full review. I wouldn't say I am a fan of this particular story, but I can see myself enjoying this author in another context.
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  • Katrina
    January 1, 1970
    On paper I felt I should have loved this book. Unfortunately, it didn’t come together for me. Steven Allred is an excellent writer and there are some incredibly creative, as well as original, ideas in this novel. The story has a very mythological feel which is something I ordinarily love, but there was a huge disconnect between the tone of the story and the coarse humour that ran throughout. The characters also fell a bit flat to say the least, particularly of the female ones. I do think others On paper I felt I should have loved this book. Unfortunately, it didn’t come together for me. Steven Allred is an excellent writer and there are some incredibly creative, as well as original, ideas in this novel. The story has a very mythological feel which is something I ordinarily love, but there was a huge disconnect between the tone of the story and the coarse humour that ran throughout. The characters also fell a bit flat to say the least, particularly of the female ones. I do think others may get a lot out of it. Just not for me.This was an ARC in exchange for an honest review. With thanks to Netgalley and Forest Avenue Press
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  • Jason Arias
    January 1, 1970
    Stevan Allred's The Alehouse at the End of the World is a book wrapped in mythology, drunken with humanity, tarred in the same tinctures that simultaneously hold us together and tear us apart, and thoroughly feathered throughout. There's enough cultural head nods and eye winks and cleverness to keep Literary Master's classes discussing the between-the-lines for semesters on end. The amount of whimsy and wit keeps the narrative buoyant with chuckles, while the pure humanity of the characters (mos Stevan Allred's The Alehouse at the End of the World is a book wrapped in mythology, drunken with humanity, tarred in the same tinctures that simultaneously hold us together and tear us apart, and thoroughly feathered throughout. There's enough cultural head nods and eye winks and cleverness to keep Literary Master's classes discussing the between-the-lines for semesters on end. The amount of whimsy and wit keeps the narrative buoyant with chuckles, while the pure humanity of the characters (most not even human) slowly unfolds to land in a place that is ultimately grounding and deeply visceral.
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  • Sibil
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 25%Thanks to NetGalley and to the editor. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest reviewSadly, this book was not for me. It's not that it's bad, at all. The writing is something special and it's all like a fairytale. But it's also a little bit too... dreamlike, atmosphere-speaking, and it's just not my cup of tea. And I couldn't care for the story. I've tried but I wasn't invested in it, even if, as far as I have read, it was quite original and interesting. But it just wa DNF at 25%Thanks to NetGalley and to the editor. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest reviewSadly, this book was not for me. It's not that it's bad, at all. The writing is something special and it's all like a fairytale. But it's also a little bit too... dreamlike, atmosphere-speaking, and it's just not my cup of tea. And I couldn't care for the story. I've tried but I wasn't invested in it, even if, as far as I have read, it was quite original and interesting. But it just wasn't for me. Maybe it would come a better time for it, or maybe not.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    What a read! This book is both in and out of my comfort zone. Fantasy, check. Lots of smut and weird metaphors for body parts? Not really check. Craft beer and the PNW? Check, check. Slightly oversized pages and small print? Sigh, not check.I admit the first 100 pages or so were occasionally a slog but I'm glad I kept reading. The world is really creative. I loved the imagery. The ending was very moving.
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  • Joe Jones
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of those hard to review books especially because we don't have an option for half stars. I do enjoy off the wall books and this definitely qualifies. We also get the classic tale of the lengths one will go to for the love of their life. Then we get the not so great things. It does go on a bit longer than it needed for me. Lastly are the somewhat creepy sex scenes which will limit who I would recommend this too. It definitely will leave an impression on you after you finish!
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