Walking to Aldebaran – Adrian Tchaikovsky

aldebaran

After having read, and loved, Children of Time by the author, I was quite interested by reading more of him, and this novella was nicely timely!

The story, the tone, the context were quite different from the big and serious « Children of Time », which didn’t surprised me: a novella is a very interesting format to show an author personality and range of writing capacities. « Walking to Aldebaran », a short story, a creepy tale, with a mystery hidden in plain sight, is one perfect example. It’s main characteristic and appeal is its tone, a dry desperate one, as the hero progress in the nightmarish maze name the crypts and speaks to an imaginary friend, Toto (like the dog in « The magician of Oz »). If the story isn’t funny at all, the way it’s told is absolutely delicious!

The narrative is cleverly woven, going back and forth from the present to the past in a very comfortable fashion – no effort and no frustration either for the reader. There are some references, apt to speak to the modern reader; even if there aren’t quite credible for the narrator, living in a distant futur, this kind of bending is quite acceptable for our reading pleasure!

The atmosphere is downright horrific. It reminded me, for its mix of dread, disgusting-revolting-but-rather-fun facts, its practical and bizarre atmosphere, the Peggy Sue’s books by Serge Brussolo that I used to read when my oldest daughter was a child and a fan (yes, there are children books, the kind of weird and horrific stories some children crave!).

The end was good, and quite unpredictable until the last pages – even if, retrospectively, many hints were given. Still, I was a bit dissatisfied, as I’d have liked some points cleared up. An epilogue, from the other humans point of view for instance, would have been nice.

To conclude a very good story, funny and horrifying in the same time, riveting from the very beginning till the end!

(I thank Netgalley and Rebellion Publishing for sending me the ARC in exchange for my honest review)