As I’ve been working a ton, I’m once again behind with writing reviews. So I decided to do another round of mini reviews – have a read and see if there’s something that appeals to you!
I was extremely excited for The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Michael Joseph, February 2021). But sadly, the execution of the concept was just not for me. The story centres Taryn, a self-absorbed woman who has issues dealing with her sister’s murder. She hires a hitman to take out her killer and ends up being pulled into a supernatural threat. I found the characters superficial, and I was bored by the writing. As this promised to be a book about books, something that I usually adore, I was very frustrated throughout reading it, and would not recommend it. If you are interested, you can get a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).
The Four Profound Weaves (Tachyon, 2020) by R.M. Lemberg is a wonderful novella set in the author’s acclaimed Birdverse. It has the air of a fairytale, with trans and queer characters at its centre. The story drew me in and made me cry multiple times as characters were able to just live their realities. The eponymous four profound weaves are magical ways in which the characters in this world are able to weave things (and themselves) from nature. But to vanquish an evil ruler, they have to learn how to weave from death… I really liked this novella, and I highly recommend it if you like lyrical, magical stories. Get a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).
The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell (Bantam, 2021) reads a bit like a Terry Pratchett book transposed into a present-day setting. I loved the concept, but the execution did not work for me. The humour was too crude and there were a lot of discriminatory jokes. I feel like the setting of a newspaper focusing on the weird and supernatural could have offered itself to far better stories, but the characters frustrated me to no end and I couldn’t get over some of the comments that were made. Added to that was that the plot just tried to do everything, rather than focus on one direction and do it properly. I don’t recommend this one, but if you want to check it out yourself, you can get a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link)
Mexican Gothic (Jo Fletcher, 2020) by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a much beloved book. It is set in early twentieth century Mexico, around Noemi, a headstrong young woman. Her cousin has recently gotten married, and sent them a letter that has the family worried. So Noemi goes to try and figure out what is going on in the remote estate of High Place. It’s a textbook Gothic novel, with mild horror elements and psychological tension. I can appreciate that it is a really good book, but I do have to say that it wasn’t for me. I found myself wandering off and not caring at all, and I think it’s just me not clicking with Moreno-Garcia’s writing. But if you’re curious, I do recommend taking a look! You can get a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).
The City of a Thousand Faces by Walker Dryden (Orion, 2020) is based on the world created in the podcast Tumanbay. There are a lot of elements to recommend this story, but ultimately they did not come together in a satisfying way. I really enjoyed the setting, and some of the characters were really interesting. Still, I felt like the writing and the plot was too all over the place to hold my attention. While events happened, it did not feel like the individual characters were headed anywhere. The story happened to them, rather than the POV characters moving it forward. You can get a copy of this one from Bookshop here (affiliate link).