ARCADIA by James Treadwell


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The last of Treadwell’s (Anarchy, 2014, etc.) trilogy is a spiritual quest unfolding in an awe-inspiringly imagined dystopian world.

Although no one “in the world knows What Happened,” civilization has collapsed worldwide, a calamity that began in a mysterious Valley deep in Cornwall, England. In the trilogy’s most straightforward and cohesive narrative, 10-year-old Rory is the last surviving male on the Isles of Scilly off the English coast. Sea creatures—call them mermaids, or sirenes—lure and kill any male past puberty. Rory is seduced into helping three shipwreck survivors. There’s Per, a grumpy, giant sailor, Oochellino, an acrobatic Italian of owlish demeanor, and Roma girl Silvia. The three steal a boat, shanghai Rory, and head for England’s mainland. Their goal is “Pendura. Where magic lives,” but that’s deep in the forbidden Valley. Ashore, Per is killed, and Silvia and Oochellino disappear. Rory’s taken in by Dolphin House, a part warrior, part matriarchal tribe, and then journeys with them to seek an oracle in a desolate, abandoned radar station, all while trekking across lands ruled by the Black Pack, brutal rogues who worship dogs. Gawain and characters from previous volumes join the narrative as Rory, “small and far from Home, on a quest he doesn’t understand,” reaches the Valley’s heart. There too is Silvia, who, along with Rory, is Treadwell’s most fully realized character. With surreal imagery and metaphors spun from Apollo, Christianity, and the crucifixion, Treadwell meditates on God, creation, the lost magic of Eden—the “door to all the knowledge that runs in the veins of the earth and blows around the stars.”

With allusions to works from the Bible to the The Lord of the Rings series, this is perhaps the most accessible of Treadwell’s loosely linked trilogy. 

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4516-6170-5
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Emily Bestler/Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2015


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