My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I think Maeve Gilmore did a wonderful job with this book. While it certainly lacks Peake’s sense for the grotesque (which anyway felt more at home in Gormenghast than outside of it) it certainly does read like a Gormenghast book and, in particular, is an excellent counterpoint and closure to the part of Titus’ life that started in Titus Alone.
The story of Titus Awakes once again follows the episodic steps of the previous book but in a gentler way, following a change in sensibility that reflects both the changes in Titus and the change in author.
But the formula is tired, and Titus himself becomes tired of it, of being a victim of random occurrences and encounters rather than being a deciding factor in his own life; as a story of coming of age Titus Awakes is then successful, giving us a credible reason for Titus’ change of heart without invalidating the character described in the previous books.
The character of the poet in particular feels like a special homage to Peake, [spoiler]a tormented man with a physical illness that took away his mind (like Peake had Parkinson’s), a man who loved to write and craft images, and also the only man with whom Titus felt a connection – which would make sense if he was a reflection of his own author[/spoiler].