Greetings from surprisingly sunny Edinburgh. Yes indeed, I have made it out of London for the first time this year, and I’m very excited. I reread T.L. Huchu’s The Library of The Dead on my train up to get in the proper mood, and I’m going to finish my TikTok about it later (yes, I’ve become THAT person). If you missed it way back, here‘s my review of The Library of the Dead from December. But without further ado, today’s Monday Minis. Once again, thank you to all the publishers for sending me review copies of these novels, all opinions are my own.
I struggled with Meet Me In Another Life by Catriona Silvey. I listened to this as an audiobook and kept taking rather long breaks, listening to whole books in between. This is the story of Thora and Santi, two people destined to meet again and again in Cologne, at different points in their lives, but with a shared love for the stars. There are some elements that stay the same across all of their lives, but some elements, especially their relationship to each other keep changing. Still, this makes the story feel very repetitive – there are only so many times I find the same characters meeting over and over again interesting. While there ultimately was a reason behind the story being what it was, I ended up mostly bored after the third repetition or so, and only kept listening because I didn’t want to give up. I don’t think this is a book I’d recommend, personally. It does explore interesting questions of how circumstances can change a person and how nurture influences character, and I can see how it might appeal to a more literary oriented reader. Ultimately it seems to put form over substance, and that is not the kind of reader I am.
Seven Deaths of an Empire by G.R. Matthews is an interesting one. It’s a huge epic fantasy tome, with all the trappings. It starts off great, and I loved the first few hundred pages. I originally found that while it used a lot of the tropes of epic Grimdark, it also subverted them and made them into something new and interesting. It is a military fantasy, but it also has central female characters, and I really liked the flashbacks introducing every chapter. However, once I hit the halfway point, I started struggling with this book. I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with the story, it probably has more to do with my reading mood than anything else. But it took me forever to actually finish it, and to be entirely honest, not much about it actually stuck with me. If you’re into classic Grimdark such as Mark Lawrence or Joe Abercrombie, this is a new author to check out, but if you’re more into diverse fantasy this might not be for you.
I devoured Composite Creatures by Caroline Hardaker. When I picked this up the other day, I just wanted to read a few chapters to get a feel for it, and suddenly I was halfway through the story. It is unsettling and creepy and all too close to reality. And Caroline’s writing is stunning and immersive. This is the story of Norah and Art, a couple living in a dystopian world, which unravels over the course of the story to show just how broken it really is. And if I’m honest, I wasn’t expecting to be as enthralled by this story as I ended up being – it’s not the most plot-heavy, but it is emotionally captivating and that took me by surprise and is a large part of why I ended up loving it. Composite Creatures is the kind of soft genre-defying psychological horror that I love, that focuses on unsettling the reader rather than being a gore fest. This one I do unreservedly recommend.