The Black Book of Secrets, F. E. Higgins

Every year, I determine to teach at least one text which is new to me that year – which with a shrinking pool to choose from at GCSE becomes harder year-one-year – and that is why I have stumbled upon F. E. Higgins’ The Black Book of Secrets. It is an odd little book –…

A Skinful Of Shadows, Frances Hardinge

Cards on the table. I adore Frances Hardinge. She can, in my humble eyes, do no wrong. I would buy a telephone directory with her name attached to it as an author! Her Cuckoo Song was a masterpiece. The sort of novel which I wish I had more than my self-imposed five stars to give…

The Loney, Andrew Michael Hurley

There is something very frustrating about this book. It was so close to being great that the fact that it wasn’t great is so disappointing. The premise sounded brilliant: members of a religious community go on a retreat to an isolated location; suspicious and sinister villagers mill around; a young boy is being prayed for…

Broken Harbour, Tana French

Recipe for a Tana French Dublin Murder Squad novel: Take an atmospheric and intense setting, such as the last remnant of an ancient forest, a secluded mansion or a half completed housing project abutting the sea; insert a handful of characters with intense and golden relationships; raise the pressure and temperature; remove from the oven when those relationships…

The Collectors, Phillip Pullman

  This is an absolute gem of a read – or more likely a listen, as Pullman wrote it for Audible as a free giveaway at some point. That’s how I collected it – see what I did there? – and it’s been lurking in my library ever since and today I thought I may…

Lost In A Good Book, Jasper Fforde

 The second Thursday Next book picks up immediately after the end of The Eyre Affair and is a fun and joyful thing! A bit of lovely fluff: light, quick and just fun.  It does perhaps suffer from its role in the series: The Eyre Affair was pretty self-contained; it has spawned a series of – I…

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, Mark Hodder

    Okay.  I’m going to ‘fess up here.  This is no great work of fiction. This is not a literary masterpiece. It is neither lyrical, resonant or thought-provoking – those three adjectives appearing more and more regularly on my blog as praise-words for novels. It does not sparkle with intriguing new metaphors; its prose does…

My Swordhand is Singing, Marcus Sedgwick

 Sedgwick has been on my radar for a few years now, creeping into the shortlists for the Carnegie Medal regularly. I’d previously read his White Crow, and Midwinterblood. The first of those I had thoroughly enjoyed, bouncing between time zones; the second was breathtaking, tracing echoes of a story back through generations and encompassing wartime…

The House Of Silk, Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz, for me as an English teacher is almost synonymous with his teenage spy Alex Rider. Although probably with fewer helicopters, assassins and explosions. And more writing. The series is a very boy friendly, speedily paced series of novels which are one out go-to series for reluctant boy-readers. So it was with some surprise…

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving

I feel as if I’ve known of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for ever. The Headless Horseman. The midnight ride. The pumpkin. I knew that – however much I loved it – the Tim Burton and Johnny Depp film took massive liberties… And even more liberties in the Fox network series Sleepy Hollow which was…

The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton

Ahhh, Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker winning The Luminaries. It’s certainly not a quick read! It took such a time to read it – and admittedly my reading coincided with a stroppy baby and a hectic few weeks at work – that the beautiful cover started to wear off! The M of LUMINARIES on the front…

Intertextuality in the The Woman in Black

Intertextuality is a strange idea. It’s reasonable and intuitive that texts refer both backwards and forwards within themselves: how many stories and tales begin and end at the same place and setting? Detective fiction is built on the importance of small early details turning into clues to be resolved later. Anton Chekov went so far…