To use the oldest of clichés they say the pen is mightier than the sword. In the case of April Skies this holds true. Such is the power of Ian's writing I found myself deeply affected by main character, John’s, thought train. The novel picks up after the tragic events that concluded the first novel, Abide with Me.
The first 50% of the novel was for me a dark and quite depressing read, almost a stream of consciousness as we follow John's day-to-day struggles and believe me it is a struggle for him. It's been a VERY long time since I've read a book with such emotional depth that grabs you by the heartstrings in the way that April Skies did. The closest comparison I can make is with Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Yes, this book is that good. I was inside John's head and feeling his pain. Alienation, guilt, fear, helplessness and loneliness are eating away at John.
I may be painting an overly bleak picture here and that would be doing April Skies a disservice. The characters make many funny observations and there were laugh out loud moments of observational and dialogue related humour. I’ve talked about the darkness of the book but there is also the exploration of the joy and sense of community we feel about football. Music too is described with particular fondness by John and listening to a favourite album and how it makes us feel is one of my own great joys in life.
There’s more than emotional content to the book. There’s a well rounded plot and the book draws to a close you don’t know which way things will go and this reviewer certainly won’t spoil things for you. April Skies will be probably the best book you read this year.
April Skies by The Jesus And Mary Chain: