Lindqvist and King: Horror and catharsis

Dear Mr. Ajvide Lindqvist, I find myself wanting to see your arm, to verify if there is an ‘X’ scarring it, carved by a monster of a policeman. Seeing this scar, I think, might convince me of the existence of horrors beyond this world.   In this year of firsts, I was lucky enough recently…

No justice in truth: My Name Is Revenge / Ashley Kalagian Blunt

Truth. History. Genocide. As an authority figure in Ashley Kalagian Blunt’s My Name is Revenge says, we know how “contentious various narratives can be.” These are the words of a principal to a student, young Vrezh, expelled soon after. Vrezh’s misdeed? He tried to bring to the attention of the school faculty events relating to…

Bad Romance: The Love of a Bad Man / Laura Elizabeth Woollett

Who doesn’t love a murderess? Popular culture tropes relish in the fantasy of the bitch, the fallen woman, seductress, but especially in the complete dissolution of the feminine stereotype, that notorious beast – the female serial killer. Women killers feature heavily in Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s The Love of a Bad Man. If the ratio of…

Traumata: Such Small Hands / Andrés Barba

In an afterword by Edmund White, Andrés Barba’s chilling and sparse novella Such Small Hands is said to be based on events in an orphanage in 1960s Brazil in which a group of young girls killed a fellow child and played with her body parts for some time afterward. This point is almost universally noted…

Grief, healing and horses: The writing of Eliza Henry-Jones

It’s rare that a piece of writing moves me to tears, but I’ll readily admit that in the course of reading the novels of Australian author Eliza Henry-Jones, it’s been three-for-three. These books are powerful, moving, and incredibly human. The experience began with Ache, Henry-Jones’ latest adult release. I read it travelling between Helensburgh and…

Other histories: Terra Nullius / Claire G. Coleman

I’m writing this review with care because I’ve resolved to write it without spoilers. Terra Nullius is best placed as a work of speculative fiction, a genre seemingly without boundaries. As with other affecting books, Claire G. Coleman’s Terra Nullius was a shift from one state to another, a journey in itself. It went a…

Dead girl and heron: Joyce Carol Oates

Content warning: child abuse (reference), sexual assault (reference) Before reading her work, I’d assumed Joyce Carol Oates was one of those writers who churned out weepy family sagas. As many fateful reading habits begin, I picked up Daddy Love (2013) by accident. It was an entirely disturbing read, tracking the fate of a young boy…

Strange and beautiful: From the Wreck / Jane Rawson

Speculative fiction is by its very nature strange and unexpected. Jane Rawson’s From the Wreck is both of these and more. I’d heard of the title from various book lists and reviews yet I was reluctant to pick it up given its seemingly incongruous premise: a surreal blend of historical fiction and sci-fi. The history…

Why we need… The Power / Naomi Alderman

I’m tidying up this review from a jumble of notes scrawled while listening to the audiobook edition of The Power. More often than not, I post reviews after a significant procrastination mulling-over period. In this case, I couldn’t remember the last time I was so utterly, maddeningly in awe of a work. The premise of…

I adore thee: Hag-Seed / Margaret Atwood

On the rare occasion, a book sends you reeling, completely potent with possibility and a narrative that transcends the ordinary. I’ve been a fan (nigh-on Misery-level) of Margaret Atwood after reading The Handmaid’s Tale. Since then, many of her books have become all-time favourites, including the incredible Maddadam trilogy. In both of those works, Atwood mastered uniquely…