A review of Tej Turner's The Janus Cycle
Tej Turner's The Janus Cycle was published by Elsewhen Press as an e-book in January 2015. The paperback edition will be published in April 2015.
Information about Tej Turner:
Tej Turner is fresh out of University, where he partied vigorously and studied Creative Writing and Ancient History to sharpen his craft. He has just begun branching out as a writer and been published in anthologies, including Impossible Spaces (Hic Dragones) and The Bestiarum Vocabulum (Western Legends Press). When he is not gallivanting around the world trekking jungles and exploring temples, reefs, and caves he is usually based in Cardiff, where he works by day, writes by moonlight, and occasionally squeezes in the occasional trip to roam around megalithic sites and the British countryside. The next time he has enough money he will be flying off on another adventure. He is currently engaged in writing an epic fantasy trilogy.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about The Janus Cycle:
The Janus Cycle can best be described as gritty, surreal, urban fantasy. The over-arching story revolves around a nightclub called Janus, which is not merely a location but virtually a character in its own right. On the surface it appears to be a subcultural hub where the strange and disillusioned who feel alienated and oppressed by society escape to be free from convention; but underneath that façade is a surreal space in time where the very foundations of reality are twisted and distorted. But the special unique vibe of Janus is hijacked by a bandwagon of people who choose to conform to alternative lifestyles simply because it has become fashionable to be “different”, and this causes many of its original occupants to feel lost and disenchanted.
We see the story of Janus unfold through the eyes of eight narrators, each with their own perspective and their own personal journey. A story in which the nightclub itself goes on a journey. But throughout, one character, a strange girl, briefly appears and reappears warning the narrators that their individual journeys are going to collide in a cataclysmic event. Is she just another one of the nightclub's denizens, a cynical mischief-maker out to create havoc or a time-traveller trying to prevent an impending disaster?
A REVIEW OF TEJ TURNER'S THE JANUS CYCLE
Tej Turner's The Janus Cycle is an intriguing and insightful speculative fiction novel that is in equal parts literary fiction, speculative fiction and surrealism. It stands out due to its wonderfully vivid and vibrant story and colourful characters. It's something different for readers who enjoy reading well written and thought-provoking stories.
Before I write more about this novel, I think it's good to mention something about the word Janus, because it's featured in this novel. If there are readers out there who are not familiar with mythology and the word Janus, I can say that Janus is the god of beginnings, transitions, gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings in ancient Roman religion and myth. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. More information about Janus can easily be found from the internet.
The Janus Cycle is an intriguing novel that is difficult to put down once you've started to read it. It pulls you in and doesn't let go, because the author writes captivatingly about the lives of the different characters who visit the nightclub Janus. The author fluently blends literary fiction with speculative fiction and takes the reader on a wild and rewarding journey.
Here's a bit of information about the story and the characters that appear in the eight chapters:
- Chapter 1: Pikel is having a bit of problems with his girlfriend, Vanessa. One day on his way to a rave he meets a mysterious girl who is being chased by a man...
- Chapter 2: Tristan is a young gay man who has picked up an older man and spent a night with him. Something weird happens to his paintings...
- Chapter 3: The protagonist in this chapter takes pills and begins to experience something...
- Chapter 4: Elaine has taken a pill and is out at a club and is attracted to a man called Nigel...
- Chapter 5: This chapter stars with a dream that Faye has one night. Faye is a girl whose mother is interested in New Age movement. She and her friends are going to go to Janus. She experiences something strange with a girl called Ellen...
- Chapter 6: An interesting chapter about Frelia and her extraordinary life. Frelia is quite a different kind of a girl and something weird - and also powerful - is happening to her...
- Chapter 7: Another chapter about Tristan and Neal. This chapter is told from Neal's point of view...
- Chapter 8: A chapter about a transgendered person called Charlie and what it means to be different...
- These above mentioned characters visit the club Janus and see the mysterious girl who tells them that something bad is going to happen and they have to be there when it happens. This mysterious girl seems to appear and disappear suddenly without explanation.
The characterization is exceptionally fluent. Each of the characters have lives and journeys of their own, but all of them experience strange and exciting things. For example, Faye has a fascinating encounter with a girl in her dream and later she meets Ellen whose twin has died, but follows her (what the twin does is interesting).
Time travel elements are handled in an interesting way in this novel, because the mysterious girl has the ability to project herself to different places at different times. I enjoyed reading about these projections.
The author offers fantastic glimpses into the lives of the characters. He writes boldly, fluently and fascinatingly about their lives and how they intertwine and what happens when something unexpected happens to them.
Tej Turner seems to have a good understanding of what makes us human, because he writes well about the characters' individual personalities, traits and faults. He writes fluently about relationships between the characters and examines their actions in a surprisingly accurate way (he writes about how the characters live their lives, have sex, use drugs etc).
In my opinion Tej Turner is one of the most observant new authors, because he has a talent for writing about our modern way of life in a realistic way (he fluently writes what's going on). He doesn't get stuck on boring details about relationships etc and doesn't overanalyze any of the happenings.
I like the author's writing style very much, because he writes about the characters and happenings without unnecessary fluff that certain literary authors are guilty of overusing in their novels to add more pages to compensate the lack of the story. The author has understood that you don't need to add extra pages to the novel if you know what you're doing and know how to write about the characters and their lives.
In my opinion Tej Turner's The Janus Cycle is a good example of how much we need small independent publishers, because bigger publishing companies seldom publish this kind of thought-provoking speculative fiction. Fortunately for us readers small publishing companies are willing to take chances with new authors and dare to publish something different that doesn't fit into the mold. This novel definitely doesn't fit into the mold and that's a good thing, because boldness and diversity are much-needed commodities in modern speculative fiction.
Sex and different forms of sexuality are handled admirably in this novel. For example, the author writes well about what happens between Tristan and Neal. He describes perfectly how they differ from each other, but spend time together and are captivated by each other. Tristan's feelings towards Neal are explored in a fascinating way.
The author also writes fluently about Frelia's childhood and what she did when she was young. Reading about Frelia's friendship with Pandy and her relationship with Stephan was interesting. I enjoyed reading about what suddenly began to happen to Frelia and how she reacted to it. I'm not going to reveal what happens to her, because I don't want to spoil anybody's reading pleasure by too many revelations, but I'll mention that what happens to her will be of interest to readers.
Considering that The Janus Cycle is a relatively short novel and fast read, the author has managed to add an amazing amount of depth and different themes to the story. The themes range from acceptance to rejection.
Difficult issues concerning religion and evolution are handled exceptionally well in Frelia's chapter. The author writes excellently about the clash between religion and science in a classroom and how there are people who refuse to accept certain things and ignore many other things in the name of religion.
Charlie's problems are also handled well. The author writes boldly and unflichingly about Charlie's life as a transgendered person and what he has to endure, because he's different from others. He is bullied and treated horribly just because he's not like everybody else.
It's nice that the author has had courage to write about Tristan's life and Charlie's problems, because not many authors have courage to write about different kind of sexuality. He shows that people are different and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect no matter who or what they are. He writes extremely well about these difficult issues and themes.
What makes this novel especially interesting is that it can be classified either as science fiction or as surreal urban fantasy, because it can easily be classified as both when you think about its contents. I think that if David Mitchell were to write realistically gritty and surreal urban fantasy, it's possible that he might come up with something like this.
I give this novel full five stars for its mesmerizing story and bold contents. It was a pleasure to read this novel, because it was something different. I appreciate authors who are willing to write this kind of intelligent and thought-provoking novels that boldly differ from other novels. I think that Tej Turner has a bright future ahead of him as a speculative fiction author, because he doesn't shy away from difficult material and is capable of creating a captivating story.
The Janus Cycle will leave you mesmerized by the happenings and the relationships between the characters. It's an interesting and daring glimpse into the lives of different characters who have different lives and feelings of their own. In my honest opinion The Janus Cycle is one of the most rewarding and most thought-provoking novels I've read during the last couple of years, because it gives readers something to think about.
Intriguing and well written speculative fiction!