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“Harry squared his shoulders. “I am now going to step into the wardrobe,” he told her. “I will, shortly after, step back out of the wardrobe, which is, after all, just a wardrobe. And then you can go tell the goddamn world that Underhill is just in books and I am not their free ticket to fantasyland.”


Have you ever wanted to step into your favourite fictional world? Middle Earth, Earthsea, Narnia? Well just imagine if you could…


Meet Harry Bodie, a children’s BBC presenter, one who is failing at his job and pretty much all other aspects of life. Harry wants to be taken more seriously, he wants a big role, a more serious and prestigious acting career. Well, when Harry is invited on an episode of How Even Me?, a television show which uncovers family history, he thinks the exposure might land him the perfect role, that he may finally have a moment to shine. And… well he does, just not for the right reasons. When some long hidden family secrets are uncovered it completely destroys any credibility Harry had in the television industry. You see, his grandmother is well known for her popular Underhill book series, and with those now being brought back into the limelight, it has bizarre consequences for our Harry.


And-Put-Away-Childish-Things-Adrian-TchaWhat if Underhill is real and the world isn’t idyllic but in fact a nightmare? What if everything there is decaying and falling apart? And what if the characters from that world begin stalking you?


And Put Away Childish Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky marries together portal fantasy with sci-fi and a dash of horror to deliver a laugh-out-loud, gloriously entertaining read. This novella is one you’ll wish was far longer. 


Tchaikovsky spends quite a few chapters building up Harry’s character. We learn of his loneliness, his few ambitions and we gain a general sense that Harry lacks any real purpose in life. Yet his family, particularly his grandmother, has a more colourful past than he ever knew of and when he begins to uncover the truth his life takes a rather chaotic turn. It all starts when the faun, Timon, from the Underhill books pays him a visit. Except Timon is nothing like how his grandmother had written him, he’s actually far more monstrous. This novella is where the fandom’s dream comes true. Where the imaginary places we read, the places we loved and longed to escape to are real and come to life. Yet Tchaikovsky turns that ideal on its head, he presents to us the notion that these worlds might not be as pleasant as we remember them, that they too change and decay over time, that they may not in fact be the Disney version but the Brothers Grimm one. Harry’s reaction to Timon’s appearance and the utterly bonkers events which follow is absolutely hilarious, he just cannot fathom what he has done to deserve this monumental fuck-up!


“Harry ran. Just away, because he had no other reference, He ran downhill, at first because it was all downhill, and then because downhill should have been easier, except of course that was where the drifting non-snow had collected deepest. But he ran, and kept running, and the dreadful voice of Gombles resounded behind him. Perhaps he heard the shouts of Timon and Hulder, too, but right then he reckoned that was a them problem and not a him problem. He had his own problems, not least of which was discovering that not only was Underhill real, it was a bloody nightmare of epic proportions.”


Along the way we meet some mysterious characters such as the shady Underlings and Seitchman, who became one of my favourites, but we also meet some extremely bizarre fantastical characters, who are indeed quite horrific on first appearances, though I expected no less from Tchaikovsky. The contemporary setting was also a clever device to show how Harry was going through quite a terrifying, surreal crisis and no world offered any kind of escape, no world made any sense. Harry’s journey takes place when the plague (whose name I will not utter here) changed everyone’s way of life, and when Harry finds himself in Underhill then later returns to our world of deserted streets, empty buildings and mask wearing, he questions whether he’d come back to the right world. I laughed so much here as it completely mirrored my own confusion at the time of the epidemic. Had I stepped into one of those dystopian worlds I’d so often read of? Was I facing an apocalypse?!


“You think other books might be… I mean, for all we know, Aslan’s in a zoo enclosure at Longleat and Frodo works the night shift at an Amazon warehouse.”


However, beneath the surface of this highly entertaining and absolutely bat-shit crazy story is the deeper journey of a man who goes through a monumental change in his life, whose world is literally turned upside down, but he comes out all the better for it. Without giving away too much, Harry’s life is ultimately renewed as he gains agency.


And Put Away Childish Things is a story of resilience in a surreal world and the search for meaning. It is Narnia on a much darker, comical and riotous scale. 


ARC provided by Jess at Rebellion/Solaris Publication in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for the review copy!


And Put Away Childish Things is out now



The post AND PUT AWAY CHILDISH THINGS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (BOOK REVIEW) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive.

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