I finished Erik Larson’s Thunderstruck and wanted something light and easy to read – so I looked through my collection of pulp ebooks and came up with Sarban’s The Sound of his Horn. This was an odd bit of fiction that I had found recommended here and there across the interwebs.
It’s an interesting amalgam – told as a story-within-a-story… it has time-travel science-fiction aspects, alternate history, a possibly unreliable narrator (one of my favorite literary devices), themes akin to a reverse Island of Dr. Moreau, a bit of an unlikely love story, while at the heart it is a “Most Dangerous Game” tale on steroids.
What’s odd about the book is that it is told in a slightly archaic, literary style (I had to use the dictionary quite a bit as I read) but the story is full of lurid, shocking elements that would be at home in the most modern trashy paperback. In the story, the protagonist finds himself thrown a hundred years into a future where the Germans have won World War II. A Teutonic lord rules a massive forested estate where his decadent guests hunt half-naked women costumed as deer or birds. They are captured alive by the hunt and served as after-dinner entertainment trussed up and delivered under giant silver serving-domes.
See what I mean. And that is not the worst of it, by any means.
I really don’t know if I’ve read anything as strangely sophisticated and sleazy at the same time.
In summary – it’s a short novel and more than entertaining enough. It’s well worth reading – if that’s the sort of thing you want. It’ll stretch your mind more than a bit. You can get an ebook copy here or here.
The author, who chose the pen name of Sarban, was John William Wall, a British Diplomat for over thirty years and a published writer for about two. Other than The Sound of his Horn he has a couple collections of fantasy short stories (some ebooks here). He must have been an interesting man, a combination of a sharp mind and a sordid imagination.