384 pages, 48 Chapters
Published by Faber Faber
4.00 out of 5 on Goodreads
Expected publication March 19, 2024
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5
What is The Kellerby Code About?
The Kellerby Code follows Edward, and he is trying to cope living in a world that he can’t afford. In a hope of hiding the shame of his birth and his violent past, he tries to blend in by catering to all of his friends’ needs, anything to keep his two best friends, Robert and Stanza, happy. But it all starts to unravel, when he finds out that Stanza, someone he has strong feelings for, is with Robert. And now new problems arise as Edward’s past comes back to haunt him in new ways. We follow the story through a couple of months, from June through to November as everything seems to spiral out of control.
Finally Edward reached into his pocket to inspect the object, knowing this was no relic: half a human jaw. Only one tooth remained, top-heavy with silver alloy, and still tasting dirt.
– Jonny Sweet, The Kellerby Code
What is Bad About The Kellerby Code?
Unfortunately, this was hard to follow in places. Early on in the book I had no real idea or understanding of when The Kellerby Code was set. It had an old timey Downton Abbey vibe, and then all of a sudden characters were whipping out mobile phones. I found this very distracting and off-putting, but only to begin with. Once I had a clearer understanding of this books vibes and setting I was able to sit back a lot more relaxed and enjoy it.
Also, on that same vein, when the pacing picked up, whether through action sequences or a high tense conversation, I found it hard to follow. And in quite a few instances I had to re-read through certain passages to have any understanding of what just happened. But, I have a theory for this and I will explain later on (actually in the good points – so stick around!).
Majority of the characters I did not like at all. I found that, for the most part, they were vain and obnoxious. But I think that for the most part this was intentional. They were all from wealthy backgrounds, entitled upbringings and it was everything that Edward idolised. It’s just that this caused me not to care about them, they were just dislikable.
As he turned back to look once more, a soft wind disturbed the tiny leaves on the hedge, as though the shadow were nodding its head farewell. Plum, Edward thought. He would call him Plum.
– Jonny Sweet, The Kellerby Code
What’s so Good About The Kellerby Code?
And now, let’s talk about what I liked, and I shall begin with the point that I have already teased about. So while I already said that I found it hard to follow in places, and having to reread sections to understand what just happened, I fully believe that this was intentional. And this is because, early on, you get a sense that not everything is well with Edward. He clearly has some internal demons and a form of mental illness, possibly even as severe as a form of schizophrenia. Now while these passages were hard to follow, it is clear while reading through them that the disjointed aspect was there in part to serve as an indicator that Edward is not well. And I thought that it was done really well, once I understood why it was done this way. Added to that is Plum, Edwards imaginary friend that tries to escalate matters by making suggestions to Edward, disguised as trying to help out and support Edward through the more difficult situations that he finds himself in.
The plot of The Kellerby Code was great. Following Edward who clearly is trying so hard to fit in and wanting so much to be in his friends lives (Stanza and a little bit Robert), that he finds himself in awkward situations where he doesn’t quite know how he got there or what to do about it going forward. It was also a great look into the class system of the UK and how much Edward wanted to fit in and other people’s thoughts and opinions on the matter that helps show how disjointed Edward is from the reality of it.
Now, while The Kellerby Code is a dark comedy novel from comedian Jonny Sweet, it isn’t necessarily a laugh out loud read, a lot of the time there wasn’t much humour to be had but when it was there it was fun. The humour mostly came through in the situations that Edward found himself in. Sometimes fueling his awkwardness, not knowing what best to do with himself to best blend in and fighting with the desire to be of help to his friends. The comedy aspect was deftly handled and brilliantly blended together to lift up the darker scenes and stopped them from being overdramatic. While the comedy wasn’t making me laugh out loud, it did make it much more enjoyable to read.
Final Thoughts on The Kellerby Code
Overall, this was a great read and one I would recommend to fans of dark comedy with some murder mayhem to see you through. This is definitely one that I will be picking up again for another read some time in the future. Hopefully picking up more of the story, the more subtle hints to Edwards psychosis and anything more that The Kellerby Code has to offer, and I am sure there is more to be had.