The closest description I can give to the feeling that this novel gave me was the joyful uncertainty of IBS (and I'm sure that Reid will be psyched to know that I've made that comparison). But hear me out. You know something's wrong. You don't know what's causing it, you don't know how it's going to manifest itself - only that it will, and soon. You ain't gonna have any control, and you can't stop it. You feel a bit sick. This novel feels like a slow descent into that same feeling as it begins to spin uncontrollably away from you.
Last weekend, I spent 5 hours trudging through a barren wasteland with a father “the man” and his son “the boy”, watching them starve, make mistakes, fight and protect each other - and the experience damn near killed me. Making us ask the question: What is more important to us - our lives, or our humanity?
On the first page, we learn that ‘Tequila Leila’ (as she’s known to her friends) is not at home, cuddled up in bed and warm, but instead she lies dead in a metal rubbish bin on the outskirts of Istanbul - a city which lives and breathes its own personality as loudly as the characters that live within it. We feel immediate devastation that this woman, a person who Elif describes with intimate detail, has met her end here. As Leila herself says: “She could not believe that her mortal existence was over and done with [...] Last night she had left her fingerprints on a whisky glass …”
What do you do the morning after a one night stand when you cough and a decaying penis falls right out of your very own, very alive lady parts onto your shower floor?
'The new me' is undoubtedly one of the most depressing novels I’ve ever read - but in a way that is refreshingly realistic. Films and books do have a habit of making the depressive romantic, exciting, or thrilling. This novel gives us none of that - instead Butler takes on an intimidating task by weaving together a book that explores tedious monotony, a self-defeatist attitude and a steady decline into depression, all while keeping the readers’ attention. If it manages to catch you, it cuts much deeper than most other texts.
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.
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.
So many sounds that she couldn’t place. But they were coming from a place. Did the place come first, or the words? She sang them so they weren’t wriggling around in her throat like a fish. Like a plaice. She laughed and saw colours.