The Gullwing Odyssey by Antonio Simon Jr is very different to anything else that I have read in a very long time.
It is quirky, gripping, twists and turns back on itself cleverly and is hilariously funny in a very dry witted kind of way. I absolutely loved it. I read it in hospital, waiting for my daughter to have emergency surgery and it should definitely have been harder for the author to engross me in anything - yet he managed it.
I loved the character of Marco Gullwing. He is adorable in a very clutzy, accidental kind of way; the very unlikeliest of heroes and yet he entertained me from start to finish. A lot of what he thinks or says is so tongue-in-cheek, that it is hilarious and it caused me to keep laughing out loud in a room full of acutely sick people. I’ve read lots of novels where people are ‘marked’ in some way and given some kind of magical gift, but this was wholly original and the gift is plain bizarre. I think I cried with laughter throughout the scene where Marco and Alexis compare their ‘marks’. Ward 17 at the Waikato Hospital now hate me!
There is such a strange eclectic mix of personalities that the whole thing moves on elegantly, carrying the reader with it. The character of Barclay has a very strange and warped view of life, which is almost Christian but not quite and his peculiar rules and regulations reminded me of some people I’ve met on occasion, which is possibly what made it even funnier. I loved that there were dragons, but that they were portrayed completely differently to the usual and I admire the dynamic of the whole thing. I could never have guessed the ending, but really appreciate how it was wrapped up. When I picked this novel up, I mistakenly thought I was getting some kind of Sinbad the Sailor story retold, but it was much, much more than that. I certainly didn’t expect ingenious and I wouldn’t have banked on hilarious or deeply thought provoking, but that was exactly what I got. This novel is like a parody of all the annoying, deeply irritating, strange, ineffectual and incredibly likeable people you have ever met.