The Rabid Readers Review – Tallis Steelyard. A Fear of Heights by Jim Webster

Tallis Steelyard. A Fear of Heights by Jim Webster

Tallis Steelyard Takes Off!

When I pick up a Tallis Steelyard book I know I am going to have the most enjoyable of rides start to finish. There will be social comment and cynicism, there will be intriguing concepts and fascinating settings, there will be battles of wit and cunning plans, but two things above all will stand out – the incredibly interesting characters and the wonderful moments of both subtle and laugh-out-loud humour.
The author has an eye for personality quirks and the humorous possibilities in just about every occasion, and seldom leaves either unexploited to the full.
This book was, however, something I embarked upon with a little more trepidation that usual when approaching a Tallis Steelyard book, because unlike the collections of vividly imagined and portrayed cameos which I have come to know and love, this is an entire novel.
Yes, there are still those wonderful cameos, but there is also a rare opportunity to follow Tallis through an unwitting adventure, all thanks to the indomitable Maljie of course. The way Jim Webster writes, I was sitting in the hot air balloon along with them.
If you enjoy Tallis Steelyard in shorts, you will enjoy as much in long form. If you have yet to make his acquaintance, then dive right in and do so, but hang onto your hat it’ll be a very wild ride!

E.M. Swift-Hook

Wit, wisdom and a deeply unreliable narrator

Tallis Steelyard, Maljie and a balloon. What could possibly go wrong?
Of course the answer to that should more properly be what couldn’t. Our guide is a poet, fixer, sometime conman and prolific fibber and his companion on the journey is a larger than life lady of strict if eccentric morals and definite ideas on every subject. Cue fireworks.
As we fall headfirst into this madcap adventure the only thing that is truly guaranteed is an enjoyable ride.
Jim Webster’s writing is quintessentially English in its sensibilities, being dryly humorous and sparely undecorated. He excels at the quick pen sketch of even the least important character, without ever pushing judgement down our throats.
I particularly liked the guard who felt queasy having to sit on a trapdoor to prevent our heroes escape – of such little gems are happiness made.
I will admit to having wondered if Tallis Steelyard could sustain a full-length novel, but my doubts were completely unfounded. This book is a delight.
Of you have never visited Port Nairn and never encountered the lives of a certain poet and his acquaintances may I suggest you remedy this lack tout suite.
Five stars and a big fat recommendation.

Jane Jago

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