The Vorrh

The Vorrh

A Novel

Book - 2015
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The Vorrh follows a brilliant cast of characters through a parallel Africa where fact, fiction, and fantasy collide. Tsungali, a native marksman conscripted by the colonial authorities--against whom he once led a revolt--is on the hunt for an English bowman named Williams. Williams has made it his mission to become the first human to traverse the Vorrh, a vast forest at the edge of the colonial city of Essenwald. The Vorrh is endless, eternal; a place of demons and angels. Sentient, oppressive, and magical, the Vorrh can bend time and wipe a person's memory. Between the hunter and the hunted are Ishmael, a curious and noble Cyclops raised by Bakelite robots; the evil Dr. Hoffman, who punishes the son of a servant by surgically inverting his hands; and the slave owner MacLeish, who drives his workers to insanity, only to pay the ultimate price. Along with these fictional creations, Brian Catling mixes in historical figures, including surrealist Raymond Roussel and photographer and Edward Muybridge. In this author's hands none of this seems exotic or fantastical. It all simply is.
Publisher: London :, Coronet,, 2015.
Branch Call Number: FANTASY
Characteristics: xii, 500 pages ;,24 cm.
Series Volume: 1.


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The Vorrh – A surreal and timeless fantasy

The Vorrh. The name rolls mysteriously off the tongue. It's a book, and a forest. Ancient, sacred; populated by monsters, angels, and those who have lost all memory and time. This is the first offering from B. (Brian) Catling, and it comes recommended by Alan Moore (Watchmen, V is for Vendetta) who said of it - Easily the current century's first landmark work of fantasy This is a great book. … (more)

From Library Staff

The Vorrh is a seemingly endless forest. It’s a place both natural and supernatural. Living beside it and being unknowingly influenced by its powers is a cyclops raised by robots, a selection of actual historic figures, a young girl curious about the strange world around her, and an intrepid expl... Read More »

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Jan 03, 2020

Subject: fantasy; writing: Pulitzer or Nobel: cure for insomnia.

May 18, 2017

I thought, at first, that I would dislike the novel, tossing it into the ash heap of potential wasted time. I was wrong. The strange eloquence of the prose, as stilted as it initially seems, becomes part of the magic--the mirage truly sets in once the cyclops is introduced.

May 16, 2017

Modern art in literature form. Best analogy would be to watch Terry Gilliams work from Monty Python for two hours. Interesting for a very brief amount of time.

Feb 13, 2017

An imaginative mix of fantasy and steampunk. Characters include Angels who have forgotten what they were guarding, a cyclops who seeks the meaning of life and the robots who teach him. Oh and the Scotsman who must use his witchdoctor wife's body to make a prophetic crossbow. With references to historical creative figures such as Eadweard Muybridge, the first photographer to capture a horse's four hooves off the ground) and Louis Daguerre, the inventor of the camera obscura, to name a few. A great series.

Dec 25, 2016

A book by a person with a well-thumbed thesaurus, a computer, and not much else to recommend himself as an author. A choppy, disjointed story written in what I think the author thought was a rich, poetic style, but is full of misused words and impossible metaphors. Too many words and not enough clarity. About half through I decide that the story wasn't worth the decoding of the florid prose.

Jan 24, 2016

Disjointed but fascinating. It is the best book I read all year by a long shot.

Nov 24, 2015

A well written but slightly disjointed tour of a mythical African forest. Many different characters get their own stories in different chapters, some converge and some run parallel and one did not seem to ever connect with the rest of the book. If you like literary puzzles it can be fun and rewards those with some knowledge of late Victorian and WWI era popular culture. Edward Muybridge is a character as well as Dr. Gull (one of the Jack The Ripper suspects).

Apr 29, 2015

The Heart of Darkness meets Borges meets something that might have crawled out of Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth.

Structurally, the novel is essentially a series of image-laden set pieces and disparate storylines. Some stories converge, a few quite violently in the mysterious forest; others circle around the perimeter and lurk. This disjointedness can be maddening. Those readers who like their narratives neat and tidy might be put off, but be patient; eventually things start to coalesce, and what you’ll be rewarded with is a wickedly labyrinthine masterpiece.

Overall, this is a spectacular book, like a flicker of light that makes other books seem bland and monochromatic. I give it the highest possible rating because it dares to explore; it’s primal and potent. I’d recommend this if you’ve been secretly yearning for something to jolt you out of your reading doldrums, something that will crack open your subconscious and blur the borders between prose and poetry...and dreams.


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