By Peter Norman
“Emberton is assuredly like nothing else you’ll read this year — or, perhaps, for a long while.”
“The best fantasy novels engage with us in a range of ways, and Emberton, like the Tower itself, has many different levels to explore. And, true to its weirdness, it suggests various ways of understanding a world beyond the literal and mundane.”
A gothic tower, and a tale about the power of language reminiscent of a comical Borges
On a foggy Monday morning, twenty-five-year-old Lance Blunt arrives at Emberton Tower, a crumbling old office block in the heart of the city’s business district. He’s here to interview for a job for which he is ludicrously unqualified: a position in the marketing department of Emberton Publishing, which makes dictionaries. Lance, for reasons that his parents and teachers have never been able to figure out, is completely illiterate. But a strange promise has lured him here: an anonymous voicemail hints that the job will allow him to overcome a lifetime of stigma and frustration, and finally learn to read.
He lands the job, and very quickly finds out that something more—and more sinister—than mere lexicography is going on at Emberton Tower. With the help of Elena Wright, a beautiful young etymologist he meets on his first day, Lance delves into a maze of secrets. Deep in the tower’s plentiful cellars, an ancient project is unfolding: an attempt to squeeze out the power of language itself, to give that power physical form.
“Dark debut novel a feast for language-lovers…As the publisher promises, this is a work that will satisfy lovers of language. The debate on the purpose, meaning and origin of language is spread throughout the novel, and readers should feel free to jump right into the debate. This well-paced contemporary gothic novel slides seamlessly from a vague sense of disquiet to full-blown horror, from ominous noises in the heating pipes to serial murder…”
–Winnipeg Free Press
“…a compelling story full of mystery, horror, and humour…The thing I loved most about Emberton was how it mixed so many different elements together to form a truly unique and engaging story. The way that Peter Norman managed to take an ordinary, mundane place like a dictionary publishing office and turn it into a setting for mysterious evil forces speaks to what a truly creative and gifted writer he is…Emberton is a novel that should appeal to anyone who just loves language and a good story.”
Douglas & McIntyre, Canada, March 2014
One of NOW Magazine’s 10 Must-Reads for Spring 2014