Some authors have it in them to tell a story; others do not. The former can make even a dry topic interesting, can take cliches and make them feel fresh or weave a yarn that enthralls readers. Aidan Walsh is one who belongs to the first category and ‘Game Bird’ has all the ingredients needed to make it fascinating.
Game Bird is about Captain Faulkner, a naval captain and war hero, who is now deeply into debt. He hears of a monstrous fish titled ‘The Leviathan’ which has been attacking shipping and therefore has attracted a large bounty. He decides to go after the fish with the help of his friends. Sarah Blake is the daughter of Uriah Blake, the financier of the expedition, and is wrestling with a secret of her own. She joins the expedition as Uriah’s representative. And the rest of the story is about their lives, secrets and the hunt for the fish. The setting is similar to England in the 18th century and is mostly based arounds the sea, the navy and ships with a healthy dose of fantasy and sorcery thrown in – sort of the Aubrey/Maturin series while also involving fantastic beasts and sorcery.
Right from the first word till the last, Game Bird holds the reader’s attention. We end up care about what happens to each and every character- be it hero or villain. The characters are realistic and every one of the main characters has to overcome some flaw or another.
The story is exciting and it has this feeling of richness. Aidan Walsh has taken Jaws (or Moby Dick) and somehow made the story feel new again. I am not going into more details than this but like the afore mentioned ‘Moby Dick’ the story is ultimately a metaphor (unintended or otherwise) for characters to overcome their issues, flaws and biases. This is not to say that the action is feeble or the pace slow. Rather, the book has plenty of action and the book moves at a fast trot.
The world of Game Bird feels at the same time familiar and unknown. And it gives the impression of being huge without overwhelming the reader with details.
So, in the end, what does this mean? Game Bird is one of those perfect stories where everything comes together. Every time I was forced to put it down due to real life interfering, I was raring to get back to it. Go for it!