The Land Across

Trade paperback

English language

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4 stars (1 review)

A Kafka-esque travelogue

1 edition

reviewed The Land Across by Gene Wolfe

There's a lot going on

4 stars

But then there's always a lot going on in a Gene Wolfe novel. This was my first read, and it's going to require additional read-throughs for me to pick up on some of the puzzles. But even on a surface level, this book is very "all things to all people".

Grafton, an American travel writer (well, that's what he claims to be, and why wouldn't we believe him?), travels to an unnamed country in Eastern Europe, the land across the mountains, intending to write the first travel book about the nation. Very quickly he becomes entangled in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, a haunted house, at least one love triangle, a buried treasure, and a Satanic cult. Strange figures come and go—for example, was that Dracula?

To quote one of the police officers in the first chapter:

"All maps are wrong. If the [enemies] come, they will be lost."