Review by Frank Plowright
The Hand of the Island is an honorific title that comes with mystical gifts passed down the generations from one Alsop to the next until it reached Thomas in 1992. He gave up attempting to be a rock star and took up fighting mystical threats to New York. In The Hand of the Island he discovered the ghosts of those who died at the World Trade Centre in 2001 are trapped there, and should the ten year anniversary pass without their being freed the consequences will be dire for New York and the wider world.
Almost from the opening page Chris Miskiewicz has ensured Thomas Alsop is an attention grabbing thriller with original characters, a depth of background detail and smart storytelling, and in the opening chapter of The 3000 he cranks that up further still. Thomas knows what he has to do, and knows how he can do it, but, naturally, there are complications. The irreverent and unconventional way Thomas goes about his task is nicely captured by Palle Schmidt, and so are the excursions into the past, showing what worked for his ancestors and why. The watercolour style Schmidt uses is sometimes a little too loose in places, the figures looking ready to slip off the page, but in the fast pace of what’s passing, they’re momentary.
That pace is mach speed. Miskiewicz throws Thomas from one life-threatening scene to the next, and while he’s doing it, Miskiewicz is piling on his own guilt about trivialising the tragedy of 9/11. In-story he’s already explained what’s happening and why it has to be that way, but anyone only flipping to the first pages of the final chapter can’t be blamed for considering he’s supplying crass trivialisation. He’s not. Will creator and creation pull victory from shame?
If anyone’s read the previous book and most of this and still needs convincing what a smart writer Miskiewicz is, they should be referred to the ending. Most writers would have taken a different route and taken the pats on the back that came with it. Miskiewicz instead decided to reflect his story by ensuring readers hate him as much as half of New York hates Thomas. That’s great writing.