Book Review · English

Sandsnarl by Jon Stone – Immersive, Clever and Lively Fantasy Poetry

What is the book about?

“Village of dunes. Valley of slumber-dust.

Sandsnarl is a settlement steeped in sand – though where it came from and how long ago is a matter of tall tales and steely whispers. The sand itself makes accurate record-keeping impossible. It is drug, ore, plague and delicacy. The inhabitants of this region (or is it a fallen kingdom?) talk and think through its haze. Some alter their shape, as if shaved by it. Others seethe, resisting its rattle and buzz.

These poems eavesdrop, extract, sift. Together, they make up a brief impression of time and place a Bunuelian musical without the music.”

~ Summary from the back cover of the book.

My thoughts

Sandsnarl whisks you away into an alternate world full of sand, curious fates and mystical moment. Each poem builds upon the previous to make the sand-filled environment more palatable, extensive, fleshed out, curious and lively. Inviting its readers to bear witness to different moments of the lives of the inhabitants.

Amongst my favourite poems were “The Thurl of Sand, Whose Mouth Hovers Eternally Above a Cup of Mead, Orates the Beginnings of the Age of Sand” and “The Travelling Tea Seller Has Laid Out Their Stall Beneath a Willow Tree and is Entertaining their First Customer”. And if those titles don’t pique your interest and make you curious, I don’t know what else to say! Let yourself be swallowed up by the sand for a little while before you move on to the next adventure.

The sand concept that weaves through the whole collection is brilliantly executed and each poem, each story feels unique yet adds to the overall theme and understanding of the world. The writing makes each word a living, breathing thing. At times it’s rhythmic, melodic, immersive and then it feels like slogging through the sand along side a stranger you just met. Jon Stone demonstrates incredible use of his craft as a writer with each poem. It is thoroughly impressive and such a joy to read. Everything fits together so wonderfully from to the content to the writing to the illustrations.

The illustrations by Emma Dai’an Wright are a beautiful addition and help the reader immerse themselves into the world while reading. I absolutely loved the little grains of sand on every other page. It was just very clever!

Conclusion

Sandsnarl is an immersive fantasy poetry collection that invites readers into a world where sand influences every aspect of the lives of the people inhabiting it. Though record-keeping is near impossible, storytelling isn’t and so the collection is filled to the brim with wondrous, mysterious, mystical, curious, strange, and sometimes surprising tales that truly bring the world and its people to life. The writing is clever, diverse and above all rhythmic adhering to the beat of this very unique world we’re invited to explore. The Illustrations are a beautiful addition and support the writing wonderfully.

Sandsnarl is unique fantasy adventure told solely in the form of poems. It is clever. It is immersive. And I enjoyed every second I spent reading it.

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