I read A Cleansing of Souls by Stuart Ayris a few days ago and posted a blog about it on the same day that the author published his new novel, The Bird That Nobody Sees. I downloaded this with the intention of reading it later in the summer. No chance. I glanced at the opening pages and couldn't put it down; every spare moment has been spent reading it and quite a few things were put on hold so that I could finish it.
The blurb says it's the second book in a trilogy but I didn't register that until afterwards so it definitely will stand alone; and I am intrigued by FRUGALITY. Is this something like "If you can keep your head when all about are losing theirs and blaming it on you…" that everybody knows or is it the writer's own? If it's his, well, it's really great; if we all took it as our daily mantra and implemented it we could improve our world hugely.
From reading the other novel, I expected to be entertained, to be given something to think about and to admire the quality of the writing and I wasn't disappointed. There are some lovely descriptive passages in The Bird That Nobody Sees, some interesting word play and at times writing that is almost poetic. The dialogue is real and makes a big contribution to making the characters live. The story-line is original, well constructed and entirely plausible (Eastern Region Angel Collective??? Yes, entirely plausible).
I am not going to give anything away but when it is explained why certain characters are doing what they do, it is so heartrendingly sad and poignant that it makes a tear come into your eye; but it's not one bit sentimental. There are aspects to the story which provide a social commentary on the world we are living in but done with a deft, light touch so as not to be preachy just honest and sincere.
The setting is
Chelmsford (which is in Essex in case you've never been there) and the town (or city) features in the novel as one of the characters which are all very well written. They're real and full of personality and you feel like you've met some of them before. They're engaging and you are interested in what they're doing and what they're going to do next and they drive the novel on at a fair old pace.
The author has offered a beautifully written narrative; a lively and engaging story; excellent characterisation and sensitive social commentary. If The Bird That Nobody Sees was just that it would be a very good novel. But it has something else that I wasn't expecting. Stuart Ayris can write funny: at times a quiet chuckle and sometimes a great guffaw. This is one of the most amusing and entertaining novels I've read for quite a while. The Bird That Nobody Sees is getting five stars on amazon from me and if I could give it ten I would.