BookBrowse has a new look! Learn more about the update here.

Excerpt from The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones

The Emperor of Any Place

by Tim Wynne-Jones
  • Critics' Opinion:
  • Readers' Opinion:
  •  Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
  • Oct 13, 2015
  • Paperback:
  • Mar 2017
  • Rate this book

  • Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Evan stands at the door to his father's study. There is a sign at eye level: THE DOCKYARD. It was a present he gave to his father last Christmas, made of cork so that if the house sank, at least the sign would still float. Their little joke.

He raises his hand to knock—a habit he can begin to unlearn. So much of grief is unlearning. He opens the door, steps inside, and takes a shallow breath, afraid of what might be lingering on the air. But there are only the old familiar smells: Royal Lime aftershave, glue, sawdust.

This is where he found him.

He thought his father had fallen asleep. The only sign that anything was wrong was the new model ship lying on its side on the carpet. His father had finished it the evening before— fourteen days ago. Evan had picked up the ship; it wasn't damaged. He found a space for it on the shelf with the other ships, a couple dozen of them. He placed it there to join his father's bottled armada. "Not so grand as an armada," his father had once said. "More like a flotilla."

Clifford E. Griffin III, a modest man.

It was strange doing that, picking up the boat and placing it carefully on the shelf, pretending his father was asleep behind him. Only asleep. There was no blood, no sign of a struggle, just the boat in its bottle on its side on the floor. And his father pitched over his desk, his face strained, his eyelids and jaw tense, rigor mortis setting in. He even died modestly.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The muscle of his heart had been thickening. Evan had watched his father rub his chest a fair bit, the look on his face more annoyance than pain. And he would get short of breath when he was gardening. That was about it.

And then that was it.

Fourteen days ago. No — fifteen.

Now Evan moves into the room, heads over to the desk, the chair pushed back so hard against the wall by the paramedics that it left a dent in the plaster just under the window. The chair is still there up against the wall. The plants on the sill are dead. One more thing Evan has forgotten to do. There are dried leaves on the floor.

The ambulance arrived thirteen minutes after he called 911. The fire truck got there three minutes faster. Evan stood shivering at the open front door in his boxers and T-shirt, watching the cartoon-red ladder truck pull into the driveway, wondering whether he'd somehow called the wrong number. Huge men, dressed for putting out fires, piled out of the vehicle, sniffed the air, looked up into the early morning haze for smoke or flames—the kind of stuff they were good at. Then two of them set off at a run around the perimeter of the house — one this way, one that — while three of them entered, so large, they seemed to fill up the place and suck out all the air. Evan thought maybe he was suffocating.

One of them checked out the Dockyard. Another one found a blanket somewhere and wrapped Evan up in it, made him sit in the living room, trembling even though it was July. The third fireman brought him water in a glass from the kitchen.

"Is there someone we should call?"

Evan shook his head. His dad was retired now, so he wasn't going to be late for work. Oh! The fireman meant family: another parent or auntie, an older sibling — that kind of someone. But there really wasn't anyone. Not one he could think of right then, that is—right at that precise moment. Just him and Dad.



The book lies on the desk, precisely where his father's head had landed. He remembers that now, looking down at the desktop: his father's sallow cheek against the brighter yellow of the binding. He touches the book tentatively, turns it to face him with the tip of his index finger, like it's booby-trapped—something that might go off in his face.

The Emperor of Any Place. Copyright © 2015 by Tim Wynne-Jones. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start
discovering exceptional books!
Find Out More

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Early Sobrieties
    Early Sobrieties
    by Michael Deagler
    Dennis Monk is sober now, and he expects some applause. Or at least some recognition that he's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Coin
    The Coin
    by Yasmin Zaher
    A popular choice for book jackets in recent years, perhaps especially in the historical fiction ...
  • Book Jacket: The Night of Baba Yaga
    The Night of Baba Yaga
    by Akira Otani, Sam Bett
    When Yoriko Shindo gets into a brawl on a busy street in 1970s Tokyo, she has no idea what the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Anthropologists
    The Anthropologists
    by Aysegül Savas
    A documentary filmmaker, Asya is interested in the "unremarkable grace" of daily life, "the slow and...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Very Long, Very Strange Life of Isaac Dahl
    by Bart Yates

    A saga spanning 12 significant days across nearly 100 years in the life of a single man.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Who Said...

Never read a book through merely because you have begun it

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.