‘Corrugate warehouses turned their backs so they couldn’t see. Forests of old defunct aerials looked away so they wouldn’t witness. Floodlights of solitary masts closed their eyes to all that happened in these bad yards. Voltage boxes sat low in the water. Abandoned train carriages faced the other way. Stacks of concrete sleepers played dead. A whole skyline of relinquished cranes and masts and pylons and dark high-rises were too far away to claim to have seen anything. Fire escapes leaned drunkenly. Then the road rose out of the water like a slipway and they came upon land.’
Take note. In future, when I review a book after a bit of an absence, it is normally because the book in question is so mind-blowingly good that I have to share my thoughts!
The Earlie King & The Kid In Yellow is Cork author Danny Denton’s debut novel. What a novel to start your writing career with! The writing is incredibly inventive and original throughout while the plot is simple enough to hook the reader. Denton experiments with character, dialogue and punctuation making this book unlike anything else that you will read this year. While I love literary fiction, even the abstract nature of it can become predictable now and again. So it is invigorating to read something so completely fresh and different once in a while.
“It was impossible to tell whether the rain was one thing, a single natural element or a trillion things happening at once. It was the same with the world, and people.”
The novel is set in a futuristic Ireland where all and sundry is awash with eternal rain and suffocating corruption. There is no real government or police force so the country is beholden to all the ills that come with a fallen society. The mythical Earlie King and his Earlie Boys rule Dublin with an untouchable menace. People disappear and bodies appear at a furious rate. All across the city, the eye of the king is sprayed on the walls to remind the people that their true ruler is watching. No one dares go against him, that is until the Kid In Yellow steals from him.
The Kid In Yellow sets in motion a whole chain of events that disturb the new world order. Suddenly everyone is talking about and looking for this mysterious renegade. A world-weary policeman decides to solve one more case after years of not even bothering to try. A journalist keeps tabs on the exact crimes of the Earlie mob for a time when it will be safe to reveal them. In the background lurks Saint Vincent DePaul, a vigilante who burns buildings for the poor, and the gleeful Mister Violence who seems to hiding around every corner.
It takes immense imagination and craft to tie all these elements together and create a story and Danny Denton must be given immense credit for that. A story as wild and flamboyant as this needs a true master to tame it.
To conclude, I would call this novel a close literary relative of Max Max: Fury Road. It is one that you will rave about to your friends upon reading. The next time the rain comes, I will definitely look at it differently.
‘Is a few people telling us meaningless stories lately.’
‘All stories are meaningless,’ Sweeney said. ‘Only you yourself put meaning to them. The whole of life is meaningless. You just try to put your meaning to it day by day.’
- The last time I was this excited about a book was when I read Kevin Barry’s City Of Bohane. Both of these novels are similar in that the are set in dystopian Ireland and the villains are vaguely hipster, but in the end they complement each other instead of being identical companions.
- Someone on Twitter actually recommended Michael Hughes’ novel Country as a similar read to City Of Bohane and The Earlie King. It retells the story of the Iliad in the context of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Needless to say I bought a copy of this as soon as I could and will read very soon.
- Danny Denton thanks, amongst many others, Mike McCormack of Solar Bones fame and Max Porter, author of Grief is the thing with feathers, in his acknowledgements. Two incredible mentors to have at your side.
- Because I am a massive nerd, I sometimes listened to the sound of rain while reading this novel to make it even more atmospheric. I got some stick off my wife for that. 😦