My favourite kind of Joanne Harris novel. Brooding, menacing and claustrophobic. We're back at St Oswald's school, setting for the equally fantastic GMy favourite kind of Joanne Harris novel. Brooding, menacing and claustrophobic. We're back at St Oswald's school, setting for the equally fantastic Gentlemen and Players, and back in the company of Latin master Mr Straitley who is having to grapple with more unwelcome ghosts of the past. The book goes back and forth in time, partly through the eyes of Mr Straitley and partly through a sociopathic diarist who's intentions leave the reader uncomfortable from the get go.
Similar in tone to Blueeyedboy I'd recommend this to anyone who wants something a step above the recent glut of psychological thrillers. The writing is so smart and atmospheric and the plot so skilfully woven. The reader is never allowed to get too comfortable as there's always another plot twist or revelation just over he page. I devoured the majority of this book on a windy Sunday afternoon, the cliche of "I just couldn't put it down" is often used but I genuinely struggled to tear myself away from this one. Brilliant stuff from Joanne Harris once again.
I was lucky enough to receive a free ARC of this book in exchange for a fair review. ...more
Joe Hill is known for his scary stories where the scares are mainly supernatural but in The Fireman the scares come from people and how they change anJoe Hill is known for his scary stories where the scares are mainly supernatural but in The Fireman the scares come from people and how they change and abuse their power when the world falls apart around them. People are bursting into flames, it's become an epidemic and the fear over who will be next is almost as crippling as the disease itself. Christened Dragonscale, it starts as a scaling of the skin and ends in sudden immolation. Unsurprisingly after refusing to abandon her patients, nurse Harper Grayson has contracted Dragonscale and also finds out she's pregnant. Abandoned by her husband, Harper must find a way to survive with the help of the mysterious Fireman.
Harper is a really enjoyable character to root for. She's a Mary Poppins obsessive with an unwavering dedication put she also isn't afraid to kick some arse if needs be. The story is sprawling with many twists and turns and is parts The Road and parts Walking Dead (but without the zombies). It doesn't waste one of its 768 pages and is possibly the most absorbing book I've read this year. The back stories of some the characters would make a fantastic book on its own. Very different to NOS4R2 but equally as enjoyable and one I'd heartily recommend for fans of several different genres.
I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review....more
It's much to my shame that I've not read this earlier. Iain Banks has left behind a magnificent body of work and I fully intend to work my way throughIt's much to my shame that I've not read this earlier. Iain Banks has left behind a magnificent body of work and I fully intend to work my way through it. ...more
A fascinating telling of a true story which would belong on the pages of any fiction novel. To his neighbours, Jean Claude Romand was a respected doctA fascinating telling of a true story which would belong on the pages of any fiction novel. To his neighbours, Jean Claude Romand was a respected doctor, working at the World Health Organisation, and a devoted husband and father. Unbeknownst to them he was living a lie, there was no job (for money he conducted a kind of ponzi scheme with his parent's savings) and while his wife thought he was at work, Jean Claude was conducting an affair. Slowly the deception starts to crumble as the money begins to run out and Jean Claude snaps, over the course of a weekend killing his wife, children and parents and making a half hearted suicide attempt. He fails and stands trial for the murders while all around him ask themselves how he could have fooled so many for so long.
This is a brief novel, coming in at under 200 pages, but it is utterly absorbing. Romand's lies are so brazen and large and he keeps them up for almost 20 years. His deception starts almost innocuously when he oversleeps and misses a crucial exam and the author notes that it may have been easier for Romand to do the work rather than continue the lie but his parents high expectations send him into a spiral of deceit. If it weren't for the financial difficulties he finds himself in as the money he's pretended to invest for his parents starts to run out, you wonder if Romand could have kept this going for another 20 years. Carrere strikes up a correspondence with Romand, and his eventual meeting with him is almost disappointing as he finds the man himself doesn't live up to the vastness of the story. As terrible as what Romand did was, as a person he is quite ordinary with trivial complaints about his incarceration. The fascination lies with how he deceived so many people simply by them taking his words at face value.
This book feels like more than just literary true crime. It's an interesting story where the author attempts to get inside the head of a man who choose a bizarre and ultimately devastating way to live his life.
I received a ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. ...more
This is an absolutely staggering book. A book which is going to stay with me for a long time. There were times when I put it down and it took me a fewThis is an absolutely staggering book. A book which is going to stay with me for a long time. There were times when I put it down and it took me a few seconds to rejoin the rest of the world. It's long but absorbing and never feels like a chore. Its about a character called Jude and his college friends Willem, Malcolm and JB but it's so much more than that. There's some disturbing passages concerning abuse and self harm and at times these are hard to stomach but they never spill over into being gratuitous. It's at times heartbreaking and also sometimes uplifting as it shows the reader the very worse and best of human nature and the value of a person's life. The writing is so beautifully and skilfully descriptive I felt I could see the paintings that were being described in front of me. I don't think anything I can write will do this book justice so I'll just say to put aside a chunk of time, close the door, turn off your phone and dive in.
Note: I received an ARC copy through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review....more