Review: Restoration – Angela Slatter

Allow me to introduce to you a fantastic, Australian, new to me author, (and I ask WHY haven’t I heard about this author before now???)

angela slatter

Angela Slatter is the author of the urban fantasy novels Vigil (2016) and Corpselight (2017), and Restoration (2018) as well as eight short story collections, including The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, and A Feast of Sorrows: Stories. The third novel in the Verity Fassbinder series, Restoration, will be released in 2018 by Jo Fletcher Books (Hachette International). Vigil has been nominated for the Dublin Literary Award in 2018.

Angela is represented by Meg Davis of the Ki Agency in London: meg@ki-agency.co.uk

She has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, a Ditmar, an Australian Shadows Award and six Aurealis Awards.

Angela’s short stories have appeared in Australian, UK and US Best Of anthologies such The Mammoth Book of New Horror, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, and The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction. Her work has been translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Polish, French and Romanian. Victoria Madden of Sweet Potato Films (The Kettering Incident) has optioned the film rights to one of her short stories (“Finnegan’s Field”).

Vigil has been nominated for the Dublin Literary Award in 2018.

She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, is a graduate of Clarion South 2009 and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop 2006, and in 2013 she was awarded one of the inaugural Queensland Writers Fellowships. In 2016 Angela was the Established Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in Perth. She has been awarded career development funding by Arts Queensland, the Copyright Agency and, in 2017/18, an Australia Council for the Arts grant. (http://www.angelaslatter.com/)

She is the author of the novellas, Of Sorrow and Such (Tor.com) and Ripper (in Horrorology: The Lexicon of Fear).

And all of the above is why, when I was offered the opportunity to read the new release Restoration (part 3 of the Verity Fassbinder series) I leapt at the chance. Angela Slatter is possibly the most awarded writer I have ever had the pleasure to review.

 

 

           Restoration

Verity Fassbinder #3

Angela Slatter

Hachette Australia

Jo Fletcher Books

ISBN: 9781784294380

The Verity Fassbinder series is what may be compartmentalised as urban fantasy or paranormal fiction; looking closely, this called also be  called an engaging, quirky, Australian narrative about love, family, reconciliation, retribution and tolerance – yes there is a lot happening in this novel. Did I love reading this book, this series? Yes I did.

Snappy, sharp dialogue with contemporary pop culture references ensure this above all else this is a fun read. Larger than life characters, escapades, a few deaths, Verity Fassbinder’s life is busy. Add to the mix a new boyfriend, an ex she still works for and uncle with a third eye in the back of his head all living in downtown Brisneyland, Queensland, Australia and you have a cast and locations that will keep you entertained for hours!   (*Authors Note – The city is not the city. Though I do live in Brisneyland and have used as the backdrop…I must confess that I have played fast and loose with some of the details. I’m sorry West End and I am really sorry Gold Coast.  I’m a writer. It’s fiction…while the reader will recognise certain landmarks and suburbs, Verity’s city is not quite the city you know. It just looks a bit like it, seen through a glass darkly. Enjoy the journey) *Authors Note – page 7 Vigil

 

Reading this series reminds me that I have not read much in this genre since the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. I did enjoy that series, for the most part, but Verity Fassbinder series is so much more. The snappy dialogue dripping with sarcasm, the locations,  the intrigue and above all – the honest and grounded character that is Verity Fassbinder make this a fabulous must read. I am sure you will enjoy it too.

 

Angela Slatter can be reached  here: me@angelaslatter.com

Guest Post – Sisterly Love by Helene Young

Sisterly Love 

Helene Young

 

Family relationships are very complex and for me the bond between sisters is one of the most fascinating. Part of the joy of writing Return to Roseglen was exploring that connection. The fact that I have a sister, and love her dearly, certainly coloured the relationship between two of the characters, Felicity and Georgina.

Return to Roseglen by Helen Young cover art

Felicity is ten years younger than Georgina and has always been the carer, working as a nurse for the last thirty years. Georgina is the trail blazer, a capable opinionated pilot who’s flying for an aid organisation in Europe. Nothing phases her until it comes time to care for their elderly mother, Ivy, an equally opinionated and indomitable woman.

 

Separated by distance the sisters have still remained close, but what will be the effect on that bond if Felicity decides it’s time to take charge? Will Georgina acquiesce or will she push back, an alpha female not prepared to give ground, even if her relationship with her mother is fraught?

 

Our patterns of behaviour are established early and can be incredibly hard to change. An older sister almost always sees her role as making decisions for a younger sister. That might be fine at first, but as they grow into adulthood and make their own way it can cause friction and estrangement. A once compliant younger sister can find a back bone of steel. How they navigate those early clashes can colour the rest of their lives.

 

Our sisters can be our harshest critics and our staunchest supporters. They can cut deep with their truths yet provide vital comfort at our lowest ebb. Being a sister is a job for life and the reward is knowing you always have someone in your corner.

 

 

Thanks Helene. Relationships are complex, again your words resonate. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog.

 

 

 

Post Script: The Nowhere Child – Christian White

Nowhere Child by Christian White cover art

The Nowhere Child

Christian White

Affirm Press

ISBN: 9781925584523

 

Description:

‘Her name is Sammy Went. This photo was taken on her second birthday. Three days later she was gone.’

 

On a break between teaching photography classes, Kim Leamy is approached by a stranger investigating the disappearance of a little girl from her Kentucky home twenty-eight years earlier. He believes she is that girl.

 

At first Kim brushes it off, but when she scratches the surface of her family background in Australia, questions arise that aren’t easily answered. To find the truth, she must travel to Sammy’s home of Manson, Kentucky, and into a dark past. As the mystery unravels and the town’s secrets are revealed, this superb novel builds towards a tense, terrifying, and entirely unexpected climax.

 

Inspired by Gillian Flynn’s frenetic suspense and Stephen King’s masterful world-building, The Nowhere Child is a combustible tale of trauma, cult, conspiracy and memory. It is the remarkable debut of Christian White, an exhilarating new Australian talent attracting worldwide attention.

 

 

My View:

Fabulous read!

Debut novelists and their novels are often a risk; you don’t know anything about their writing, good, bad or indifferent. You often do not know any one else who has read the book to get a personal recommendation. You open the page totally without any expectations other than hoping that this will indeed be a great read, become your next must read author.

 

Take a risk! There is so much talent waiting for you to discover.  I have just added Christian White to my “must read authors” list. Christian has written a book that is subtle yet thought provoking. He has a written a book that is intriguing, engaging and demands to be read in one sitting. Listen to those demands; clear your calendar, turn off the TV and immerse yourself in this stunning narrative. You will thank me for the recommendation, I have just lessened your risk.

 

PS I predict awards for this book.

 

 

 

Post Script: A Sea-Chase – Roger McDonald

A Sea Chase

A Sea – Chase

Roger McDonald

Vintage

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9780143786986

 

 

Description:

Growing up in inland Australia, Judy, a young teacher, has rarely seen the sea. But when she flees a rioting classroom one dismal Friday, a dud and a failure, she gets drunk and wakes up on a boat. Overnight her life changes; she is in love with being on the water and in love with Wes Bannister who lives on the boat. Sailing was not something Judy had ever thought about wanting, but now she craved it. Wind was the best teacher she’d had, by far…

 

From then on, Judy believes that the one trusted continuation of herself is with Wes, and always will be, but then events at sea challenge their closeness. Must they become competitors against each other in the push to be equals? It seems they must.

 

A Sea-Chase is a novel that vividly tracks ambition, self-realisation, and lasting love tied up in a sea story. The idea that nobody who sets off to do something alone, without family, friends, rivals, and a pressing duty to the world, ever does so alone, finds beautiful, dramatic expression in Roger McDonald’s tenth, and most surprising novel.

 

 

My View:

An evocative narrative that almost has me wishing I could sail and I do not like the water – unless it is the water in a swimming pool or the calm safe waters of the reefs around Mauritius.

 

The sea, powerful, temperamental and mesmerising and the landscapes – generally portrayed as isolated and harsh, domineer and control the fate of so many in this book. Country, small town, Australia and New Zealand are the depicted as both cloying and freeing…supportive and yet restrictive…’family’ much the same…supportive yet restrictive – complex relationships based on expectations, assumptions, wealth or lack of, education or lack of, support or lack of, social expectations, fulfilled or not. Where does family end and the individual start?  Where is the individual in ‘us’?  Can there be individuals in a loving relationship?  So much is explored in this narrative.

 

However passion is the emotion that controls and directs the drama in this read. How I have often wished to experience such passion – a passion that clearly illuminates your path in life, a passion that shapes your ambitions, your choices, a passion that provides the framework on which you build your life…there is passion in abundance in this book; the love of and affinity with the sea, the passion of first loves, of new loves, of enduring relationships… a passion that inspires a kind of gentle spiritualism encompassing ‘family’ in its many shapes and forms…the human connection.

 

This an evocative read about relationships…and the sea, simply and passionately drawn.

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Child Finder – Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder

The Child Finder

Rene Denfeld

Hachette Australia

W & N

ISBN: 9781474605540

 

Description:

Naomi Cottle finds missing children. When the police have given up their search and an investigation stalls, families call her. She possesses a rare, intuitive sense, born out of her own harrowing experience that allows her to succeed when others have failed.

 

Young Madison Culver has been missing for three years. She vanished on a family trip to the mountainous forests of Oregon, where they’d gone to cut down a tree for Christmas. Soon after she disappeared, blizzards swept the region and the authorities presumed she died from exposure.

 

But Naomi knows that Madison isn’t dead. Can she find the child – and also find out why this particular case is stirring the shadows of her own memories? Could her future be bound to this girl in a way she doesn’t understand?

 

 

My View:

A refreshing approach to this genre – where less is more, no gore, no sensationalism, just an intelligently written narrative with empathetic characters painted in many shades of black and white.

 

Denfeld successfully creates scenarios that are chilling and simultaneously heart breaking. The snow girl’s perspective is compelling reading, her voice innocent yet so world wise.

 

The writing is enchanting, haunting, lyrical, mesmerising, optimistic, I certainly will be reading more of this authors work in the future – and what an interesting life Rene Denfeld leads, a life that certainly colours the narratives she writes with empathy and thoughtfulness.

 

 

**  Rene Denfeld is a death penalty investigator and the author of the novel The Enchanted, as well as three non-fiction books, including the international bestseller, The New Victorians. She has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times Magazine. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her three children, all adopted from foster care. In addition to working with death row, clients, Ms. Denfeld volunteers with at-risk youth and in foster adoption advocacy.”

http://renedenfeld.com/

 

https://www.hachette.com.au/rene-denfeld/the-child-finder

Post Script: The Museum of Words – Georgia Blain

The Museum of Words

The Museum of Words

Georgia Blain

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925322255

 

Description:

In late 2015, Georgia Blain was diagnosed with a tumour sitting right in the language centre of her brain. Prior to this, Georgia’s only warning had been a niggling sense that her speech was slightly awry. She ignored it, and on a bright spring day, as she was mowing the lawn, she collapsed on a bed of blossoms, blood frothing at her mouth.

 

Waking up to find herself in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital, she tries to answer questions, but is unable to speak. After the shock of a bleak prognosis and a long, gruelling treatment schedule, she immediately turns to writing to rebuild her language and herself.

 

At the same time, her mother, Anne Deveson, moves into a nursing home with Alzheimer’s; weeks earlier, her best friend and mentor had been diagnosed with the same brain tumour. All three of them are writers, with language at the core of their being.

 

The Museum of Words is a meditation on writing, reading, first words and last words, picking up thread after thread as it builds on each story to become a much larger narrative. This idiosyncratic and deeply personal memoir is a writer’s take on how language shapes us, and how often we take it for granted — until we are in danger of losing it.

 

 

My View:

The Museum of Words is gently and wisely written; it speaks of truths, of family history, of love and of course, of dying. It was deeply moving yet not depressing or self-indulgent.  Georgia Blain was a wordsmith extraordinaire, her love of words enriched the page. I wish there were more pages to turn, more books to read by this amazing writer.

 

A lyrical, moving read.

 

Post Script: Miracles Do Happen – Fela and Felix Rosenbloom

A remarkable story of strength, resilience, family and survival.Miracles Do Happen

Miracles Do Happen

Fela and Felix Rosenbloom

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925322309

 

Description:

In 1933, a ten-year-old Jewish girl, Fela Perelman, befriended a new family that had moved into her street in Lodz, Poland. There were three children in the Rozenblum family — Rose, Felix, and Maria. Fela and Rose became best friends, while Felix kept his distance. Five years later, Fela and Felix discovered that they liked each other, and soon became sweethearts.

 

When war broke out not long after, the Jews of Lodz found themselves under German occupation, and were soon forced into a ghetto. For Fela and her family, and her community, it was the start of a descent into hell. Fela eventually survived the ghetto, forced labour in Germany, and then the last 17 months of Auschwitz’s existence and the death march out of it.

 

For Felix, the Germans’ intentions were crystal clear. Late in November 1939, as a 17-year-old, he decided to flee eastward, to Soviet-controlled Polish territory. He begged his family to come with him, but they felt unable to. Felix spent the war doing forced labour in the Soviet Union, often in very harsh conditions.

 

After the war, miraculously, Fela and Felix found each other. None of Fela’s family had survived. Of Felix’s immediate family, only his two sisters had survived — and they were now in Sweden. The young couple were bereft and alone. This is their story.

 

 

My View:

A remarkable story of strength, resilience, family and survival.

 

A poignant memoir that is told in two parts: Fela’s story of life pre-world war two, a time of innocence and meeting the boy who was destined to become her husband and an economically worded description of life during the war and as an inmate of Auschwitz and other detention centres. I am glad for the sparseness of words – what Fela has written must have been very difficult to survive let alone recount afterwards. The horrors penetrate event the toughest psyche.  Fela story ends with her migration to Australia.

 

Felix’s story is a little different – yet just as haunting and survival just as miraculous as that described in Fela’s narrative; forced labour in Russia was no doubt an extremely difficult and perilous, yet Felix survived and post war reconnected with Fela and eventually migrated to Australia.  What a remarkable story. What resilience!

 

I think we all would benefit from reading these courageous personal stories – a reminder of just how hostile life was during this ghastly inhuman war (all wars are unconscionable). There are lessons for all here.

 

PS

Love the cover art – the images and the tactile paper.