Escape Routes

Title: Escape Routes

Writer: Naomi Ishiguro

Publishing House: Tinder Press

Date of Publication: February 6th 2020

Rating: 5 stars

‘’I can climb out on to the roof from the windows and see the whole metropolis stretched out before me, those hundreds of buildings – white, or grey, or black, depending on how filthy they are – and the crows: dark wings everywhere, like the shadows of angels.’’

I don’t need to say much. Naomi Ishiguro’s interview included in the book says everything. All I can tell you is that if you read ONLY one collection this year (but why would you do that?), let Escape Routes be the one. It is beyond perfect.

Wizards: In beautiful Brighton, the paths of a young, sensitive, kind boy and a man living in his own world of star signs and planet alignments and karma, meet in a shuttering, exquisite story that will infuriate you and break your heart. 

Bear: A newly-wed couple buys a gigantic teddy bear in an auction. Slowly, it seems to take over their lives. But what if this strange toy is a metaphor for their relationship?

The Rat Cather I: In the first part of a beautiful tale, a rat catcher, whose job is to exterminate the rodents in the quiet palace of a dilapidated city, meets an enigmatic princess. I don’t know why but this reminded me of a modern (and no, you clueless Goodreads reader, it has nothing to do with ‘’Medieval’’ times…), toned-down Gormenghast universe and I couldn’t wait to read Part II.

‘’I don’t know what would be inside my heart,’ Daniel says, then, ‘if they dug it up – the archaeologists. I don’t even know if they’d be able to find it. The heart archaeologists.’’

Heart Problems: Oh, how I loved this one! A young Irish tries to navigate an uncertain life in London, without a job and without knowing how to make his relationship with an overbearing woman work. His mind travels back to Killargin, his suitcase is always packed. Just in case…London suffocates him. Until an impromptu meeting by a lake where two strangers will sit and talk and banter about heart problems and the responsibility of a decision…

Shearing Season: A child with an obsessive curiosity about space tries to create The Unknown to impress one of his mother’s lodgers. The results will be – literally – out of this world…

‘’There’s an infestation out beyond our gates, spreading from your very palace halls, filling the city streets with sickness and disease. There are even people who are dying out there because of it. Everyone frightened and desperate, with whispers of plague wherever you turn. Do you make this kind of noise for them? 

The Rat Catcher II: The King : In the second part of the tale, our Rat Catcher meets the king, who appears to be all sorts of mad, and realises he has found himself in a strange game of power while the city is suffering from an unknown disease.

Accelerate!: A chaotic story about identity, relationships, responsibilities, and disillusionment. Extremely poignant, triggering numerous questions in the mind of the reader. 

The Flat Roof: A woman finds solace in the company of the birds that visit her flat roof, following a tragic incident. A heart-breaking story.

The Rat Catcher III: The New King and the Old: In the third part of the tale, we witness the state of the fallen kingdom through the eyes of the young king. The resolution is nothing short of remarkable.

‘’Crows paced up and down, tapping the concrete with harsh talons and beaks, and looking fiercer and more unforgiving than Annie was quite comfortable with. Smaller songbirds – blackbirds, starlings, finches, sparrows – would flutter on and off the low rail that lined the very edge of the roof on all sides, adding their voices to Annie’s quiet, whispery singing as she watched their wings, and tried to hear the ghostly voice behind her own as she lost herself in those familiar tunes.’’