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  • Writer's pictureRichard Swan

The Book of Koli by Mike Carey - Review

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

A Riddley Walker-esque post apocalyptic sci-fi but this time the clueless protagonist has an insane Genki girl tamagotchi companion from the Before Times. This book is absolutely rad.

Take a pinch of A Canticle for Liebowitz, a big old glug of Riddley Walker, a dash of The Road, and a smidgen of The Book of the New Sun, and you have the Book of Koli.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s the third Mike Carey book I’ve read, the other two being The Devil You Know (the Felix Castor novel) and, of course, The Girl with all the Gifts.

The Book of Koli is one of those post-apocalyptic books that’s set so far in the future we’ve reverted to a subsistence medieval society. Much like Riddley Walker, the book is written from the first person perspective of (in this case) Koli, a young lad in the novel (though an older man narrating the events). The first half of the book is Koli’s life in a small walled village called Mythen Rood; the second half of the book is his life outside of it (with a bit in the middle of how and why that transition came to happen).

The conceit of this novel is that every living thing beyond the walls of the village is out to kill everybody inside it; the trees, the plants, the animals—all have a visceral and uncontrollable hatred of humans and will stop at nothing to wipe the small number of remaining humans off the face of the earth. As to why this has happened, this is explained in the book itself (and I shall not spoil it).

Koli is a very capably told and taut story (and we would expect nothing less from Mike Carey!). There is nothing out of place here. The book rips along, the narrative develops, trials and tribulations occur. This is a book that luxuriates in its setting; you know Koli lives, since he is telling the story from the future, and so much of the mystery is wrapped up in how the world came to be the way it is (and this is revealed through delightfully naïve and misunderstood in-world references to the past) and how Koli gets into--and then out of--the various scrapes that form the meat of the novel.

This was an easy and effortless read, and therefore I suspect a difficult book to write. An easy five stars from me.

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