Book review: Dark Feathered Hearts

Sticking with my good intentions, this is a review of a tremendous book I have just finished reading.

Dark Feathered Hearts is the fourth and final volume of The Book if the Colossus by John Collick. I have read and enjoyed the previous volumes and was more than keen to get my hands on the last installment.



It’s over! The Book of the Colossus is finished. The third volume, AntiHelix added a new dimension to the story, deepening the characters and the relationship between Max and Abby, at the same time accelerating the rhythm. This final volume not only has a multitude of threads to bring together without getting them hopelessly tangled, it adds even more. The plot is intricate and the cast of players pretty huge by the finale, but John Collick manages to weave in the loose ends without ever losing sight of the main picture.

The Abhumans make a surprising and loveable constant element, to the extent that the little furry buggers and the Brittle Hag’s amazing ship feel like home—not exactly comfortable, but familiar in their strangeness. Crysanthe is still with us—all hard edges to strike sparks off Abby—and the Machine Men. The Black Roses flutter in and out, as is to be expected given the title, and if there is a thread I would have liked to have lingered with longer, it was this one. For the previous three volumes the Black Roses have been the shadowy bad guys, epitomised by the dastardly Odilon, but enigmatic and intriguing. I was still intrigued by them at the end of the story. What exactly their game was remained an enigma, but this is not our world, and it doesn’t function like a cricket match.

The world of the Colossus is so huge it defies description. I am put in mind of a Hieronymous Bosch painting, tiny grotesque figures scuttling across a vast canvas of fiery reds and dull shadow, mountains looming in the obscurity and crawling with horrors. But the canvas of the Colossus shifts and changes as we travel through loops in time and space across the dying singularity and the prone body of God. The colours are violets and dull reds and oranges; the seas are acid and full of rusting wreckage, the debris of massive destruction and ancient wars. Its denizens are humanoid or machine, or something that lies in a weird zone between the two. Then there are the Giants, miles-tall loose cannons, there is reality and there is God’s mind, and there is the creation called Rebecca, a spot-on portrait of insufferable adolescence. Last of all, there are the Gods. If there is a single image that sticks with me, haunts me even, it is of the Gods, monstrous, fantastic, shining or hideous beings, infinitely cold and merciless, and their infinitesimally slow march through the God Door.

Perhaps it’s because I didn’t want it to end. Perhaps because I raced to finish, not wanting to put the book down, that the extraordinary denouement came too quickly for me. But that’s a fault I would only find with books that I am reluctant to admit have finally come to an end, that the last word has been read, and I have to let the characters continue their journey without me. This has been a tremendous journey, beautifully written and extraordinary in its visual scope. Read it.

If you haven’t read any of this series yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It really is extremely good.You can read my review of the first volume, Thumb, here.

John Collick’s Amazon author page has all the details.

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Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

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