September 10, 2011 12:30 am

A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked In

Magnus Mills again pays tribute to mankind’s ability to create chaos from order in this po-faced comedy

In the absence of his imperial majesty, the cabinet of the Empire of Greater Fallowfields tries to hold the fort. It’s not easy. The postmen are up in arms and all the clocks are wrong. The chancellor of the exchequer is barely numerate, the Astronomer Royal struggles to find the pole star, and our narrator, the Principal Royal Composer, can’t pen a note. If that weren’t bad enough, ominous smoke signals are appearing in the forests to the east.

Some people are conspiracy theorists; Magnus Mills is a cock-up theorist. Like his previous six novels, this po-faced comedy is a tribute to mankind’s (and, yes, all the characters are men) ability to create chaos from order while deluding itself that it’s doing the reverse. Better this though – so A Cruel Bird suggests – than the sinisterly efficient forces of progress that threaten to transform the realm.

More

IN Books

One of our finest comic stylists in top form.

A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked In, by Magnus Mills, Bloomsbury, RRP£12.99, 292 pages

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.