Review: The Emperor of Any Place

The Emperor of Any Place
The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has been waiting beside the bed for ages. The minute I heard Tim Wynne-Jones had a new book out I ordered it, I promote his books a lot at school to our Yr 10 students who like something meaty and quirky. This book was initially a little intimidating, would this grab me? Would it work structurally? Would I buy into the whole two timelines business? The answer to all of these was a resounding, hell yes!

The book is the story of a young man, Evan, whose father unexpectedly dies while he has been reading a book. This makes the book an item of interest for Evan, who wants to find out what is in there and who believes that there may have been some secrets inside the book which he needs to know about. The book involves the story of a Japanese soldier during the second world war who has become stranded on an island. A US war supply plane crashes on the island and there is one survivor. The book Evan finds is written in alternating chapters from the point of view of both these soldiers. The mystery is, what could this possibly have to do with Evan’s father? The book progresses both in real time as Evan deals with the fallout of his dad’s death and the consequent arrival of his estranged grandfather into his life, and the book. A book within a book.

Reading the reviews here on Goodreads this book obviously isn’t to everyones taste, but I really enjoyed it. Stayed up late to finish it and found it very creepy and also very moving in places. It deals with lots of issues such as the aftermath of war, the way that enemies can be friends, the lasting impact of terror and isolation and also has a hefty dose of the supernatural. It was a hit for me.

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