Print Length: 338 pages
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing; 1 edition (http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com)
Publication Date: July 17, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Genre(s): Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Literary Mashup, Parallel Worlds, Comedy
About the Book:
Young bookseller Cathy Finn is having a bad day. First, there's the assassin's bullet. Then comes the realisation that she's been living in a work of fiction. Worse, she wasn't even the main character.
Cathy's quiet, bit-part life may be over, but her troubles are only beginning. Her last day on Earth is also her first as a citizen of New Tybet. For over four hundred years, its people have been rescuing those destined to die in other narratives, but now the system is faltering. A saboteur is at work and Cathy will have to stop him if she’s ever going to find a way home. Failure could maroon her forever and spark a revolution that sets all the worlds of literature ablaze.
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A gloved knuckle struck the café window. It was the merest tap, but coming so unexpectedly and so close to her ear, it might as well have been an air horn. Finn's wrist responded with a jolt that sent a hot slop of cappuccino leaping for the sanctuary of her lap.
"Dah!" Snatching up a napkin, she pressed it to her jeans, glancing aside as it began its transformation from a pristine white to a sad and soggy beige.
Outside, a tall figure in a smart winter coat waved a greeting. It was directed at Chrissie, her sister. The attentions of sane, attractive, eligible men always were.
"Is that Tony?" Across the table, her mum gave Chrissie a nudge.
"Yup. That's him." A grin lit her face, though whether it was prompted by the new arrival or the spectacle of Finn's quietly steaming trousers, it was impossible to say. Perhaps a little of both. She turned her smile upon her friend. "You coming in?" Her question was partly spoken, partly mimed; her lips made comically exaggerated movements.
Tony shook his head, pointed along the street, and mouthed something that was lost to the noise of the café. The place wasn't busy, but the baristas were showing off their determinedly buoyant personalities to two punters at the till. By way of accompaniment, a Miles Davis album contended with the mechanical snarl of an ice blender.
"He's nice, Tony, don't you think?" Her mum watched the young man leave, seeing him off with a coquettish wave of her own.
Chrissie shrugged. "He's alright." She'd always had her pick of admirers. That they went out of their way to grin at her through coffee shop windows was something she took entirely for granted - like oxygen or perfect cheekbones.
Her mum adopted an expression of casual innocence. "He's from your office, isn't he?" She took a keen and constant interest in their respective romances, despite Finn's continuing failure to deliver anything worthy of discussion. Keeping her bookshop afloat was demanding all her focus right now and it left scant time for men. A brief smooch at a midsummer barbecue was about the sum of her contributions to that particular topic, and now it was approaching Christmas.
"He worked at the last place." Chrissie took a sip of her coolly unspilled espresso.
"Oh, I see." Her mum gave a rueful nod.
"Mm. He got a bit funny after I got the promotion."
Finn leaned back and dabbed at the damp, chocolate-stained patch on her leg. Here sat her two dearest people in the world, but the discussion was taking a predictable turn. They'd do their best to include her, but this was very much Chrissie's story.
Since leaving university, Finn had grown used to performing this minor supporting role. Her sister was only a year older, but she led by far the more interesting life - all centred on a bright and breathless fast-track career in financial journalism. While Finn could only regale her family with tales of imaginative window displays and the rising damp along the back wall, Chrissie's anecdotes were of foreign capitals, famous moguls, and hastily-arranged interviews in airport departure lounges. Different lives for different temperaments.
Once, long enough ago for its title to have faded from memory, Finn had read a book about a man who seemed forever fated to live an unremarkable life. Some unspecified, epoch-making change was evidently unfolding right across his city but, at every turn, the most trivial events would always conspire to lead him the other way. She saw a lot of herself in that: an ill-fitting extra; a bit-part player in someone else's tale.
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Meet the Author:
Rob Gregson spent much of his youth reading fantasy novels, immersing himself in role playing games and generally doing everything possible to avoid the real world. In his defence, we're talking about the late 1980s - a time when ridiculous hair, hateful pop music and soaring unemployment were all very popular - so it wasn't altogether a bad decision. However, had he abandoned the realms of wizardry at an earlier age, he might have developed one or two useful life skills and he would almost certainly have found it easier to get a girlfriend. Rob lives in Lancashire and has two children, although he has absolutely no idea why anyone should find that interesting.
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