Wednesday 20 January 2016

#BookReview Medusa's Web by Tim Powers

Medusa's Web by Tim Powers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the award-winning author of Hide Me Among the Graves, Last Call, Declare, and Three Days to Never, a phantasmagoric, thrilling, mind-bending tale of speculative fiction in which one man must uncover occult secrets of 1920s Hollywood to save his family.

In the wake of their Aunt Amity’s suicide, Scott and Madeline Madden are summoned to Caveat, the eerie, decaying mansion in the Hollywood hills in which they were raised. But their decadent and reclusive cousins, the malicious wheelchair-bound Claimayne and his sister, Ariel, do not welcome Scott and Madeline’s return to the childhood home they once shared. While Scott desperately wants to go back to their shabby South-of-Sunset lives, he cannot pry his sister away from this haunted “House of Usher in the Hollywood Hills” that is a conduit for the supernatural.

Decorated by bits salvaged from old hotels and movie sets, Caveat hides a dark family secret that stretches back to the golden days of Rudolph Valentino and the silent film stars. A collection of hypnotic eight-limbed abstract images inked on paper allows the Maddens to briefly fragment and flatten time—to transport themselves into the past and future in visions that are both puzzling and terrifying. Though their cousins know little about these ancient “spiders” which provoke unpredictable temporal dislocations, Ariel and Claimayne have been using for years—an addiction that has brought Claimayne to the brink of selfish destruction.

As Madeline falls more completely under Caveat’s spell, Scott discovers that to protect her, he must use the perilous spiders himself. But will he unravel the mystery of the Madden family’s past and finally free them. . . or be pulled deeper into their deadly web?


Medusa's Web is not like anything else I have read. Mind-bending is the perfect way to describe the book. Claimayne and Ariel Maddens use eight-limbered abstracted images inked on paper to be able to transport themselves into the past and the future. Scott and Madeline by mistake looked at "a spider" when they were young when they found envelopes with spiders after their parents had disappeared. That has affected them throughout their lives. It's a spider they should never have looked at.

It's hard to explain this book without giving the plot away. I found the book deeply fascinating although sometimes it was also quite mind blowing confusing to read. I especially liked the link to the past to the 1920s and I loved Rudolph Valentino's part in the story. I wish I could write more about it, but I will settle with that it gave the book a bittersweet tone, especially towards the end of the book.

The "spiders" was a bit confusing at first, I didn't read the blurb before I read the book. I just gave it a glance. I don't want the read something that gives the story away. So, it took some time for me to really grasp what was going one. It didn't help that the "body-jumping" sometimes was a bit abstract explained, especially since Scott and Madeline didn't know what they were doing at first, and what the spiders really did. I was intrigued, confounded and absolutely charmed by the book and I will definitely read more from Tim Powers!

Thanks to the publisher that provided me a copy of the book through Edelweiss!

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