Iron Chamber of Memory is different. It is a much slower burn. Don’t get me wrong, there is action, adventure, and derring-do. There is also romance, though in more than one sense. I’ll get to that in a bit.
Slower burn or no, unlike Somewhither, I read Iron Chamber of Memory in a day. Thanksgiving Day, to be precise. It’s taken me this long to write the review because how to review such a book was a bit of a conundrum.
The story starts out with Hal Landfall, a poor graduate student working on a paper on Arthurian legend, looking for his missing friend Manfred on the island of Sark. (Sark is a real place, a small island in the English Channel, just east of Guernsey.) Manfred has recently become the hereditary lord of Sark, and Hal is seeking him in the middle of the night, at a bizarrely labyrinthine mansion where the Lords of Sark reside, presently unoccupied. (Unlike the island, the mansion, I regret to say, is fictional.) There he falls in with Laurel, Manfred’s fiancee, who is also looking for her husband-to-be. They find a way inside the mansion and begin to explore, before stumbling on a strange, rose-lit chamber. As soon as they step through the door, they realize that everything they know about their lives outside is a lie. Only in that chamber do they know the truth.
So, it starts out as something of a supernatural whodunit, with a side of sorcery-tainted love triangle. But that’s just where it starts. It goes oh, so much deeper, and darker, as Hal tries to sort out real memories from false, and slowly comes to understand the deeper spiritual and metaphysical reality that his surface life is plastered over.
When I first saw the blurb for the book, my first thought was that it sounded right up the Jed Horn alley. I wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t entirely right, either. It’s deeper. Far deeper. If I can manage to get a fraction of the depth of John’s stories into the Jed Horn series, I figure I’ll be doing all right.
Do yourselves a favor and pick up Iron Chamber of Memory. I tell you this while taking the definite risk that it will make my own stories pale in comparison. Go read it, anyway.