The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey #BookReview #BlogTour

Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable landscape. A place where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.

Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He believes the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture too far beyond the walls.

He’s wrong.

I'm thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for The Book of Koli today, huge thanks to M.R. Carey, Orbit Books and Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

The Book of Koli is the first book in M.R. Carey's post-apocalyptic Ramparts trilogy set in Britain centuries after climate change and war reshaped it almost beyond recognition. People now live in small, isolated and guarded villages, constantly under threat by a landscape which now features any number of species ready and able to kill them. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this is that genetic modification by humans has resulted in forests where trees can move and. crush people or disperse choker seeds that can kill a person on the spot.
Our protagonist is fifteen-year-old Koli who lives in Mythen Rood where he has been raised as a woodsmith, working to cultivate and kill the dangerous wood alongside his mother and sisters. His days are spent working, avoiding the various deadly perils and spending time with his best friends, Haijon and Spinner. Koli's lively autobiographical narration explains how the teenagers reach a coming-of-age milestone described as the Waiting, where their future is decided upon. The village still owns a few items of old, solar-powered tech but only the chosen few are able to wield it. The Waiting ceremony is an opportunity for fifteen-year-olds to be tested to see if this tech activates in their hands. If so they join the other Ramparts - those who use these weapons to protect the village. Up until now, only members of one family have passed this test, giving them sole governance of the small population. Koli's failure to awaken the tech is inevitable but it's his disappointed response and the jealousy he experiences afterwards which becomes the catalyst for what follows. Ursala, a travelling doctor opens his eyes to the truth about what is really happening in Mythen Rood and for a while he believes he may have found a way to achieve what he thinks he most desires.
The start of the novel instantly transported me to the world in which Koli lives, superbly capturing the daily, claustrophobic rhythm of his days where the dangers outside their protected barriers mean the village is in decline, with their numbers dwindling as the available gene pool shrinks. After Koli's fateful decision to steal a piece of tech, his life changes beyond anything he could have imagined as ventures into the terrifying land outside the village. It's not just the flora and fauna that wants to kill Koli, however and as much as The Book of Koli is a tense battle for survival in an inhospitable landscape, it's also a rather chilling look at how humans can be manipulated by a need to fit in and belong. 
Despite presenting a pessimistic look at the future, The Book of Koli is often a rather life-affirming read, in no small part due to the charming and inquisitive Koli whose early wish to be important is eventually superseded by his more natural tendency to be humble and caring. His friendship with the no-nonsense Ursala and  'manic pixie' AI girl, Monono provides him with much needed advice and support and they are both fascinating characters. Monono's abilities link our technologically advanced present to the dystopian future proving to be disturbing and amusing in equal measure. 
The Book of Koli is a fabulous start to what will surely be a must-read trilogy for all fantasy fans. The world-building is outstanding throughout, of course but it's the strong voice of the empathetic, immensely likeable Koli which is surely the highlight of this excellent novel. Exciting, provocative and completely immersive, I absolutely loved it and can't wait to read The Trials of Koli and The Fall of Koli. Very highly recommended.

The Book of Koli is published by Orbit, purchasing links can be found here but please consider ordering from one of our wonderful independent bookstores if possible.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

M. R. Carey has been making up stories for most of his life. His novel The Girl With All the Gifts has sold over a million copies and became a major motion picture, based on his own BAFTA Award-nominated screenplay. Under the name Mike Carey he has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs on Lucifer, Hellblazer and X-Men. His creator-owned books regularly appear in the New York Times bestseller list. He also has several previous novels including the Felix Castor series (written as Mike Carey), two radio plays and a number of TV and movie screenplays to his credit.