Anna’s Book Nook: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H. G. Parry


Image by Anna Keneally

The White Witch, Artful Dodger, Dorian Gray and Mr. Darcey join Anna in her book nook to review H. G. Parry’s book.

Avid readers understand the feeling you get when you read a really good book and the characters seem to just fly off of the pages. Well, that is exactly what happens in The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H. G. Parry. I picked this book off a “blind date with a book” shelf, which I usually do not do. How it works is that books are wrapped in paper with vague descriptions written on the front to encourage people to not judge a book by its cover. Books are expensive, so I do not like not knowing what I am getting into, but this one called to me and I could not resist. 

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep follows Rob Sutherland and his literary protege brother, Charley Sutherland. Rob, a lawyer, always seems to be cleaning up after Charley, despite having a fairly tame job as a literary professor. The only issue with Charley’s profession is that it makes him more prone to having accidents. By becoming absorbed in books, Charley is able to bring the characters to the real world.  After Uriah Heep and his umbleness are accidentally released from David Copperfield early one morning, Charley and Rob learn that there are more unwanted problems to come. 

The book has so many callbacks to all of the best and worst characters from literary classics. From Mr. Darcey to Dorian Grey to The White Witch to Sherlock Holmes, this story has so many references that are incredibly satisfying to catch. You do not have to have read all of the books to see them, though it is nice to have that extra layer of depth. I will admit that I am not well versed in Charles Dickens, but I have recently bought a few of the books mentioned in the story. That way when I reread it, I will be able to catch more.

The book is longer than any I have read in a while, which I thought would be a challenge but thankfully was not due to the suspense and pacing of the story. One of my favorite things about this book is how Parry throws in explanations of literary devices like the implied author and the implied reader. She does it in a way that actually adds to the story without being a lecture. For example, in the story a character may be brought into the real world more than once at a time, but because of different people summoning them, they often exhibit different traits. In the case of Uriah Heep, after being summoned by one reader he was shy and umble and overall annoying, whereas another reader brought out his plotting evil and insecurities instead. I often find fantasy and mystery books repetitive, but I feel like Parry was able to break away from tropes by literally having her characters analyze them. How fascinating is that?

The world is a scary and inconsistent place, so reading books is a great way to feel control in an uncontrollable world. They might not all have a happy ending, but there is always closure nonetheless. I get so involved in my reading that I sometimes feel like the characters literally fly off the pages as well. After reading stories, while the character may not appear in front of me, I do carry a piece of them with me and that truly is the gift of books. Rereading is like catching up with an old friend and starting something new is an adventure.