261 %
Average rating

Evil Machines

A darkly funny set of linked tales about vengeful phones and hoovers by Terry Jones

Review for Evil Machines

This book starts off as a collection of unrelated short stories about malicious and anthropomorphic devices. It reads quite like a children's book, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the wicked humour and Monty Python style silliness are united to make it an incredibly funny book: not to mention that the humour is aided by the fact that it isn't hard to hear Terry reading it to you in your 'mind's ear'. The humour is derived mostly from the nonsensical but somewhat haunting premise of 'evil machines' (hence the title), and Jones' casual humour kept me reading into the early hours of the morning. Furthermore, the book is surprisingly historically accurate for a fictional novel in terms of the machines themselves (for example “I'm a Class 4MT BR Standard No. 75027!” hooted the train. “Nobody can call me ridiculous!”), which – in my opinion – only makes it a more satisfying read. What makes the book particularly enjoyable, though, is the fact that some way through the book, it suddenly becomes a novel with a flowing storyline, which is a genius transition, and helps to make the book's architecture rather unique. It is partly because of this that it's difficult to place 'Evil Machines' into a particular genre. It somehow straddles the line between adult fiction and children's fiction, combining sometimes complex language with an almost Roald-Dahl style tone. There are a couple of loose ends which do not get tied at the end of the book, but these can be forgiven due to the quirky characters and joyfully bad jokes present throughout the book. It is indeed, as the blurb says, 'brisk and cheerful on the outside, but edgy and uncomfortable within'. To synopsise, 'Evil Machines' is a light-hearted but decidedly disturbing reminder that in the world of Terry Jones, nothing has to make sense.