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The Pharos Gate: 09/23/16

The Pharos Gate by Nick Bantock

Thirteen years after Morning Star, there's a new ending to the Griffin and Sabine epistolary series. This book contains the "lost correspondence" of the two before they vanished, only to have traces of their across the globe romance discovered by lovers whose relationship oddly parallels Griffin and Sabine's.

As revealed in previous books, the two pen pals, live in parallel dimensions where somehow their postcards and letters can transcend the dimensional barrier. There's the practical, studio artist Londoner, Griffin, and the flighty, daydreamer, wild girl, Sabine.

Sabine, though, is being pursued by a mysterious man hell bent on keeping her from meeting up with Griffin. For whatever reason, the stars have aligned, and Alexandria, Egypt, is the place where the two can finally see each other in person.

But here's the thing. Anyone who has read and can remember Morning Star knows what's going to happen. The letters here are just nostalgia. It's an attempt to recapture the magical 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

The craftsmanship is missing too in these letters. The previous books used nicer paper. There was more detail in the postcards and their stamps. Each item felt real — like something that could or had actually come through the mail. Reading the books required the gentle gingerness of an archival record.

This time, the paper is almost uniformly glossy. The text is fuzzy like it's been laser printed, rather than typeset. The obvious artifice takes one out of the experience.

Three stars

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