The 400lb Gorilla by D C Farmer
Matt Danmor thinks he’s lucky. Not many people survive a near death accident with nothing more than a bout of amnesia, a touch of clumsiness and the conviction that the technician who did the MRI had grey skin and hooves. Still, it takes time to recover from trauma like that, especially when the girl who was in the accident with you disappears into thin air. Especially when the shrinks keep telling you she’s just a figment of your imagination. So when the girl turns up months later looking ravishing, and wanting to carry on where they left off, Matt’s troubled life starts looking up. But he hasn’t bargained for the baggage that comes with Silvy, like the fact she isn’t really an English language student, or even a girl. Underneath her traffic stopping exterior is something else altogether, something involving raving fanatics bent on human sacrifice, dimensionally challenged baked bean tins, a vulture with a penchant for profanity, and a security agent for the Dept of Fimmigration (that’s Fae immigration for those of you not in the know) called Kylah with the most amazing gold-flecked eyes.
It’s been ages since I’ve read any urban fantasy, not since the wonderful Banished by Liz de Jager in February if I remember correctly. I’ll be honest I’m pretty picky when it comes to this particular genre, a novel really has to capture my imagination before I’m interested. The good news is that The 400lb Gorilla by D C Farmer sounded just weird enough to do exactly that.
Matt Danmor is not having the best year. After a near fatal accident, his life has become a little dull. Everything appears a bit stale and uninteresting and he can’t help but feel that something is horribly wrong. The problem – he has no idea what that something is. His ex-girlfriend may or may not exist and more often than he would care to admit there appear to be unexplained gaps in his memory. A chance encounter with a strange, enigmatic old man offers the possibility of some answers. Matt throws caution to the wind, takes a chance and is introduced to the world of the Fae. As Matt begins to learn about the strange creatures who live amongst us, the more trippy and twisted his own life becomes. His old existence seems positively sedate by comparison.
One of the highlights for me is a character called Rimsplitter. If you’re going to have a guide to lead you through a magical mind-bending alternate reality, why the heck shouldn’t it be a foul mouthed vulture? Rimsplitter attempts to help, but mostly hinders Matt when he becomes hopelessly lost in the lands of the Fae. There is always something delightfully refreshing about any character who is brutally honest. You just never know what they’re going to say next. In Rimsplitter’s case it tends be something colourful at the very least.
When not in the world of the Fae the rest of the action takes place in Oxford and this setting is a nice touch, certainly makes a pleasant change from the glut of urban fantasy set in that there London. What with all the old buildings and obscure academia there is a sense of history and other-worldliness that fits well with the Fae. It makes perfect sense that if an immigrant magical population were going to settle anywhere in our world, they would choose somewhere that has been around for a long time and has ancient roots.
On a personal note, I was horribly disappointed when I discovered that this was a work of fiction and not fact. Having survived a near fatal accident myself I was hoping that it was only going to be a matter of time before I would uncover similar secrets to Matt. Sadly, thus far, I only have the clumsiness and none of the amazing adventures in a supernatural otherworld. I remain ever hopeful that one day this will change..
Some of you may be asking the question “Where does the whole 400lb gorilla thing fit into the equation?” Fear not, the cryptic primate related title is explained and even makes a certain amount of sense I’m happy to say. It’s also always pleasing when an author appreciates the importance of a full English breakfast.
D C Farmer has created a slightly spaced out alternate universe that lives just next door to our own. The fun really begins when some of our more anti-social neighbours decided it’s high time they come to visit en-masse. Quirky, often surreal, and on more than one occasion pleasantly dark, I rather enjoyed this debut novel. It acts as an ideal introduction to the world of the Fae and ends with the promise of more to come. This first book of the Hipposync Archives is solidly entertaining metaphysical mayhem and a shed load of fun to boot.
The 400lb Gorilla is published by Spence City and is available now.