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…

Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

Sometimes, you read a short story that leaves you wanting more and makes you wish that the writer had extended it to a novel length. With this novel, well written and crafted as it is, I wonder whether it could have been reduced to a short story. Or began life as a short story or…

Eleanor Oliphant Is Perfectly Fine, Gail Honeyman

Mental health is a difficult topic to write about. A dangerous topic. It would be very easy for it to trivialise – or even worse, to glamourise – mental illness or trauma.  And there were times here where is was a little concerned that the novel may be going down that route – the love…

Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood

Once again, a deliciously striking cover for Margaret Atwood’s most recent novel, and the most recent entry into the Hogarth Shakespeare Project… and the first in the project that I’ve read. Now, I have a confession to make before going much further: I’ve never really got Margaret Atwood. I’ve wanted to; I’ve tried to. I…

Nutshell, Ian McEwan

Some books need more of an exercise in imagination than others. A bigger suspension of disbelief. An unborn narrator, for example, is one such. And not just unborn in a metaphorical sense but literally foetal. The narrator of McEwan’s most recent book – recently serialised on Radio 4 – is a third-trimester Hamlet, set in modern London, recounting…

Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, Max Porter

Wow! This book is extraordinary. It is strange and bizarre and wild. And has the vividness and opacity of a nightmarish dreamscape. It is literary and visceral, erudite and scatological, mythic and domestic at the same time. Death and grief are such massive topics that you expect a weighty tome to contain them. Yet this…

Case Histories, Kate Atkinson

Another detective fiction novel – and another still to review, albeit with a paranormal twist – and this shares many similarities with The Cuckoo’s Calling but is done so much better. Kate Atkinson – whose more explicitly literary offering of Life After Life was divine and possibly one of the best books I have ever read – is…

Gift of Stones, Jim Crace

Hmm mmmmmm. Some books I’m glad I read before reading any reviews. What would I have learned? It’s set in the Stone Age. Instantly, I’d be put off. I’d be imagining Raquel Welsh in a fur bikini – not a bad thing in itself – and all the other nonsense from one Million Years BC…

The Lie Tree, Francis Hardinge

I am coming to adore Frances Hardinge! I’ve only read this and Cuckoo Song to be fair, but there’s something about her imagination and her writing which chimes with me: dark, intensely personal, yet somehow mythic at the same time. She captures a sense of wonder,  of terror, of awe which is simultaneously so childlike…

The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simsion

There are some great books that I’ve read over the years. Neither this, nor it’s predecessor, The Rosie Project, belong in that category. There are, however, other mental categories into which I file books and this did fall into one labelled silly-books-I’ve-read-extracts-of-to-my-wife and this does fall into that category. It is predictable; it follows an…