by Chris Dolan
illustrated by Mark Mechan
Dimensions: 210 x 140
Publication: 29 May 2015
Compare at Wordery
Captain Robert Haldane wakes up in a strange room, in an old house, surrounded by a beautiful but ramshackle orchard, miles from anywhere. The last thing he can remember is his helicopter being shot down over enemy territory. It appears he is in a safe house, cared for by an elderly holy man and his niece.
But how did Haldane get there, and who are these people really? With time he suspects there is someone else in the house. The soldier tracks her down: Aliyyah, a beautiful young veiled woman. Is she, too, being kept against her will, or even her knowledge? And is there really a curse on this family?
Aliyyah is a modern Arabian tale, set in an unnamed war-torn country. It is a Romeo and Juliet story, but one for an age where scientific materialism is crossing bloody swords with religion. What divides these two lovers is not the war outside, or the imminent arrival of Haldane’s troops, but how they interpret the world.
“Exquisite. Beyond the horror and hatred of war we find a love story that questions what we owe to the past and what we leave for the future. It asks the nature of Faith and whether, in some form or another, we need it to get through our day. Read this book in one go. It has a mysterious, dream-like quality to it and, as always with Chris Dolan, a deep-rooted humanity shines through his wonderful, elegant prose.” — David Hayman
"An Arabian tale with a Scottish accent. ... The cover and illustrations by Mark Mechan are superb. The writing is similarly deft and confidently drawn. It is also a genuine Arabian tale in that it will resonate with those who consumed such tales in childhood. Dolan was such a boy and he has an affection for the form that does not restrain him from tampering with it mischievously but to extraordinary effect. ... There is also a duality at the heart of the book that pays tribute to Robert Louis Stevenson. Aliyyah is inspired by an RLS story, Olalla, but it has a resonance too with The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde. There is good and evil at every turn in Aliyyah. ... All this is contained in about 120 pages, including illustrations and acknowledgements. It is some trick. Bring on the sonnet snake-charming." — Hugh MacDonald, The Herald Scotland