From the first to the last, Adjei-Brenyah’s ‘Friday Black’ collection of short stories holds rank among some of the most visually-thrilling, inflammatory and enriching ones I’ve ever read. It’s a provoking and daring look at the lives and experiences of black men and women today and every day before, wrapped up in deliciously clever language.
I had SUCH high hopes for this novel. The premise sounded great. The world has ended in nuclear war? YES PLEASE. Survivors are holed up in a hotel, and a body turns up? HELLA POIROT, GIMME. The race is on to find the killer? I’M THERE. The cover and the blurb activated that little part of my brain which said ‘ooooh’ and I’d plonked it in my basket during the final four seconds of waiting in line at Waterstones. A choice I regretted almost immediately after reading the first few chapters.
The story centres around two young people, Connell and Marianne - both relatably strange in their own unique way - and follows them as they grow up, at times intertwined, and at times apart.
This book is a beautifully crafted, bright and deep novel which addresses some really heavy subjects: toxic masculinity, fear, abuse, protection and growing up. And yet, it manages to deliver its lessons on the sly, distracting the reader with perilous plot and beautiful imagery until you hit the sucker-punch ending.
The Whitby Witches is a book about courage, history and magic. Two orphans are suddenly re-routed to Whitby to stay with Miss Boston - a spritely 90-something year old who walks up the famous 199 steps every day to keep her mind and body active. She needs this sharpness in spades as her friends start to die mysteriously, and the town that she knows and loves starts to crumble under a dark force.
Ghost Wall is a highly acclaimed, multiple prize-winning novel that’s been described as a ‘short, sharp shock that closes around you like a vice as you read it’. It’s a story about a modern family reliving the Iron Age; about family, about abusive situations, about friendship. But for me, it fell far short of the dazzling, ‘burnished gem’ of a book that I’d been promised.
In ‘Convenience Store Woman’, we follow this unusual protagonist as she battles through what society expects from her, and fights to secure her place at her beloved store when faced with someone who could rip it all apart.
It'll change you, if you let it. Content warnings for rape, misogyny, abuse, eating disorders. A bit of backstory: I’m a writer who spends more time on YouTube than she spends reading books. T’isn’t good, my dudes, and it’s a bad habit. But I can’t be too mad, because without it I never would have discovered … Continue reading Poetry collection review: ‘If my body could speak’ by Blythe Baird
(no spoilers) ‘My sister, the serial killer’ is a story about ‘family’ - and a fucked up one at that. It speaks strongly to the age-old sibling relationship where you simultaneously hate their guts while also screaming: “Leave her alone, asswipe! I’m the only one who can kick my sister!” Korede and Ayoola are two … Continue reading Book review: ‘My sister, the serial killer’ by Oyinkan Braithwaite