Senlin Ascends. The books of Babel
Author: Josiah Bancrof
Disclaimer: l am not getting paid to write this.
From the first sentence, I could see the influence of Douglas Adams in Bancroft’s work. The quirkiness of the characters and the settings they find themselves in, feel like a peculiar mix of the late Sir Pratchett, if he had leant his skill to a steampunk themed disney for a while. Marya in particular reminding me of an amalgamation of Tarzans ‘Jane’, and Beauty and the beasts ‘Belle’. The protagonist meanwhile, seems more like how Tim Burton might animate Arthur Dent.
Senlin ascends follows a couple on what is meant to be their perfect honeymoon, but quickly unravels into the holiday more suited to a clickbait horror story. Winding their way through what could only be described as the material representation of the seven deadly sins, Senlin Rises follows the search of a new husband for his lost wife. I don’t believe this can be considered a spoiler given that it is firmly established in the first chapter. Although the atmosphere grows progressively darker as you read through, The transition is so smooth that you don’t feel as though it is overwhelmingly morose. The reader is always left with the feeling that there is still hope.
There is a contrast through the novel between those that embrace their darker nature, and those that cling on to hope, not allowing the influence of the tower corrupt them. Many characters fall between the two extremes, but I found that the book used these as another way to highlight the differences. The development of characters is done well, we see how each event plays a part in shaping the figures in different ways. I’ve already cued up book two to read.
Senlin ascends left me appreciating what I already have. I took to heart the words of a primary character.
“If you paint us how we wish to appear, We would be unrecognizable”
This is an easy read, and following the last book I read, The start is quite lighthearted and for that reason, it is both a good palate cleanser and a transition to a new genre. For myself, I always find the hardest part of starting a new book is the part where you climb out of one world into another and find it difficult to acclimate. I didn’t have that feeling with this one. Suited to readers from young adult to those of questionable maturity (like myself), Senlin ascends is a lighthearted, steampunk dystopia that pulls you up the ringdoms alongside Senlin. With my own honeymoon only weeks away, I’m thinking quite seriously of following Bancroft’s advice “always take a good rope”. I think I’ll pack it under my towel.
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