Tom Williams

Cabinet of Curiosities

A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked In

By

Bloomsbury 276pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Magnus Mills’s latest novel is set in a fantasy world, the Empire of Greater Fallowfields, where a ruling cabinet of eight men, who barely know each other, anxiously await the return of their absent emperor. Mills opens his story with a cabinet meeting, and one immediately notices that each character is named after a bird, lending the story an otherworldly quality that recalls Chaucer’s dream poem, The Parliament of Fowls. In addition, each man occupies a distinctive, colourful role such as ‘Astronomer Royal’ and ‘Comptroller of the Admiralty’. Fallowfields is a feudal society where every man is distinguished by his job title rather than his character.

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