DNF Review: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep – Wrong Character as the Narrator


Title: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
Author: H.G. Parry
Publisher: Redhook
Release Date: July 23rd, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Fantasy
Subjects and Themes: Stories about Stories, Siblings
Page Count: 465 (hardback)

Rating: DNF @ ~40%

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For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.

There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, and hopefully before anyone gets to The End.



This is another case of me DNFing a book not because it’s bad, but because I was bored (yes, there’s a difference). And I mostly blame it on Rob, the main character. He’s the less extraordinary of the two brothers–no magical abilities and a very “straight man” vibe–and I found his narration dry and ill-fitting. I mean, this is a story about literary characters coming to life and mingling with modern society. A story about the complexity of stories. And I figure such a story should be told from the POV of a character who exudes a bit more passion, and less blandness, than Rob Sutherland.

Like his brother, Charley.

See, there’s this one little section that utterly blew me away. It’s an excerpt from Charley’s notebook, so it’s written entirely from his POV and it lasts a only handful of pages, and reading it was like stepping up to the gates of heaven and watching it open. I mean that with zero hyperbole.

There are three things that this section accomplishes:

1) It puts us in the head of Charley–this beautiful, sensitive person–and we get a glimpse of the way he views the world. The things he value and how he approaches his power. It’s the most concise snapshot of a character I’ve come across this year.

2) It neatly explains the ins-and-outs of Charley’s power.

3) It describes, with aching clarity and lyricism, the act of reading. How we process a story, and how that processing affects every part of us, and how fucking magical that is. It’s beautifully introspective and so, so on-point. I mean, look at this:

“So I”ll be drifting in words, absorbing, and the words I absorb will be racing through my bloodstream. Every nerve, every neuron will be sparking and catching fire, and my heart will be quickening to carry it through faster, and my eyes will be tearing ahead to take in more and more.

This isn’t magic yet, or whatever the word is…This is just reading a book.”

I realize I’m using most of the review to gush about six pages worth of words, but that’s how good it is. It’s also relevant because that was the moment I realized that I’m stuck with the wrong brother as the narrator. Charley’s words are emotional and raw and relatable in a way that Rob’s aren’t, and I’ll bet my right arm that I would have loved the book if it’d been told from Charley’s POV. It just feels like a lost opportunity.

But I know the book is, and will be, a hit with a lot of people. It’s got all the right ingredients: a very solid, very flowy style of writing; a plot that’s unique and attention-grabbing; fairly interesting side characters; and a sibling relationship at the heart of the story, which is always welcome.



Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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Tammy September 5, 2019 - 5:56 am

Interesting. I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a book that I thought was narrated by the wrong character, but everything you’ve said really makes sense. Sorry this didn’t work for you!

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky September 9, 2019 - 12:06 am

I think this is also my first experience with this kind of book. I was super conflicted on DNFing it!

Shalini September 5, 2019 - 6:41 am

Oh I think I was interested in this book wonder if I would like it. I am not sure anymore. The premise seemed interesting

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky September 7, 2019 - 5:20 pm

It’s definitely got a lot of good things going for it! Kind of like an adult version of Inkheart. It’s funny how something as (seemingly) inconsequential as choice of narrator can affect the whole book.

kezzysparks September 5, 2019 - 6:50 am

I’m sorry to learn you got disappointed and had to dnf what sounds like a truly promising novel. Hope you get something better

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky September 8, 2019 - 10:45 am

It had so much potential! And thank you!! I’m reading 3 books at the same time atm, and all of them have been better than Uriah Heep. So far, anyway! 🙂

Sahi September 5, 2019 - 7:56 am

I couldn’t articulate till now why I got bored with this book and DNFd it… maybe I felt like you did 😬😬
And I agree, Rob wasn’t that interesting to follow …

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky September 8, 2019 - 9:19 pm

Maybe!! I was debating SO hard on whether or not to DNF. Like, there’s nothing *particularly* wrong with it. It was just…missing something (or a lot of somethings)

Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum September 5, 2019 - 9:53 pm

Oh a pity! I was looking forward to checking out this one. I think I still might, but I will probably temper my expectations.

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky September 11, 2019 - 2:15 pm

Yeah, I had high hopes for this one because it kind of sounded like an adult version of Inkheart, and I LOVED that series as a kid. So I’m a tad disappointed it didn’t work out

Ola G September 6, 2019 - 12:55 am

What a strange dissonance! The story seems intriguing, but the narrator makes it boring. I appreciate how you analyzed this situation!

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky September 8, 2019 - 9:10 pm

Thanks, Ola!! It’s definitely an interesting case! I want to find and live in an alternate world where the author made Charley the narrator. 😀

maddalena@spaceandsorcery September 9, 2019 - 10:36 am

It’s so strange, given your description of Charley, that no editor advised the author to turn him into the main “voice” of the story: it sounds indeed like a missed opportunity…

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky September 12, 2019 - 11:32 pm

Huh, that’s actually a really good point! Maybe the editor (and the author) thought Rob would be more relatable for the readers, seeing as how he’s just an ordinary guy trying to go about his life?

maddalena@spaceandsorcery September 13, 2019 - 9:25 am

It might be a sound reason, but on the other hand readers *need* to get attached to their characters, and Rob does not sound so relatable after all…

@lynnsbooks September 10, 2019 - 3:02 am

What a shame – I’d probably have kept on reading – just to see if Charley came back as a narrator at some point (he does sound like a wonderful narrator). But then when I reached the end – and it didn’t get any better – I would be totally exasperated.
Lynn 😀

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky September 12, 2019 - 11:20 pm

I maaaay have quickly skimmed through the second half to see if Charley makes more appearances as the narrator. 😛 But it only happens a couple of times, so that kind of nailed it as a DNF.

Daniela Ark September 10, 2019 - 7:49 am

I know exactly what you mean! I’ve also read books where I was positive I would have loved it told from a different POV. Great review!

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky September 12, 2019 - 11:18 pm

Thanks, Daniela! It’s not a common case for me, but it does happen every so often!

24hr.YaBookBlog September 13, 2019 - 6:51 am

I think I had this one on my TBR, but after reading your review I think i’ll put it to the side for now– I completely understand what you mean when you say that the book would have been more interesting through a different POV, I’ve definitely felt that way before! Great review! 💞

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky September 14, 2019 - 11:55 pm

Thank you!!! I think it’s still definitely worth taking a look! All the literary shenanigans are pretty cool, and you get to see how Classic book characters might behave if they were dropped into the modern world. And that’s always fun. 😀

waytoofantasy September 14, 2019 - 9:41 am

Firstly, I really appreciate you doing a DNF review to say what didn’t work for you, I think those are just as valuable as any other review. Anywho, sorry this one didn’t work for you. I get what you mean about being stuck with the wrong narrator, I think this happened to me recently too, where I read a book and thought it would have been so much better if told from another character. Can’t remember the book though! Anyway, great review.


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