My response to self isolation in this Covid climate. What do you think? Finished? More “ eyes”?
Post Script: In A Dark Dark Wood – Ruth Ware
In A Dark Dark Wood
Random House UK, Vintage Publishing
Someone’s getting married. Someone’s getting murdered.
In a dark, dark wood
Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.
There was a dark, dark house
Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?
And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room
But something goes wrong. Very wrong.
And in the dark, dark room….
Some things can’t stay secret for ever.
A brooding and atmospheric read – Ms Ware certainly knows how to set a scene and places her characters in situations that scream – “Don’t go there, turn around, and go home, listen to you intuition…” Bleak isolated locations, a house that is cold, sterile and seems to be waiting… then it starts snowing, the phone line is dead…the guests seem just that little bit weird and very quirky…. Would I stay there – no way! Would I go for a run in an isolated forest in near dark conditions when it is freezing outside? No.
This is the stuff that is made from your worst nightmares. Clever, atmospheric, a great introspective about relationships and the nature of the evil. This is manipulation pared to the bone, exposed at a cellular level.
This is a great debut novel – a writer to keep a look out for.
Post Script: Alice and the Fly – James Rice
Honest, straightforward, heartbreaking and insightful.
Alice and the Fly
Hodder & Stoughton
A spellbinding debut novel by an exceptional new young British talent.
This is a book about phobias and obsessions, isolation and dark corners. It’s about families, friendships, and carefully preserved secrets. But above everything else it’s about love. Finding love – in any of its forms – and nurturing it.
Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition’s caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I’ll flood out all these tears and it’ll all be ok and I won’t be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can’t think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories – Herb’s death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah – but none of these are what caused the phobia. I’ve always had it. It’s Them. I’m just scared of Them. It’s that simple.
What a fantastic debut novel – James Rice has captured the essence of youth, loneliness, love, secrets and mental illness and extracted a tale that is simply told yet powerful in its sparseness. Told mainly through the observations in The Fly’s (Greg’s) diary and the police transcripts of their interviews (no spoilers here) we learn about Greg’s spartan existence, his loneliness. Greg’s acute and brilliant observations of the world he lives in are revealing and confronting; told without melodrama, or malice, reported as is, matter of factually, which somehow makes these observations even more powerful. The missing elements in his life, love and kindness – are conspicuous by their absence.
The police interviews very quickly alert you/forecast a dire act has been committed and slowly the author teases out the circumstances of this, one diary entry at a time – you will be spellbound, you will be captivated by the unravelling of this story and will not want to put the book down – I couldn’t stop turning pages until I knew the entire history of Alice and the Fly. Then I felt saddened. What an unnecessary sadness; life could have been so much easier. Life could have been so much more for all those involved, Greg is not the only one isolated in this book.
Rice writes an exceptional debut; his narrative is calm and clear and bitter sweet and has an authenticity that is undeniable. Greg’s diary entries ring true and elements resonate within us – who has not been bullied – as an adult or a child? Who has not fit in – be it at school or place of work or even in the home? Who has not felt isolated at some point in their life? Who has not stored secrets in the vault of their own mind? There are elements here we can all relate to, there are opportunities here for change and awareness that should not be ignored. Beautifully written with a natural voice that is intelligent and respectful, a narrative that is distilled with an element of realistic optimism…
Post Script: The Good Girl – Mary Kubica
A delicious twist in the tail and you won’t see this coming.
The Good Girl
“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”
Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.
Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.
An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….
First look at the book trailer – it is amazing – I love the way that in under 2 minutes the tone and tension have been set. It is an incredible feat to capture so much with so little – the pulsing/flickering light and music really add to this atmosphere – brilliant.
An amazing debut novel – the scene is set and tone is threatening, the characters are well drawn with some you will love and some you will despise. This is a novel where nothing you think is true actually is…so many twists and turns and so much sadness. I liked the character of Gabe Hoffman – his terrier like instinct to keep on, to not stop looking, and to check out all leads. And he was compassionate and patient. I felt very sorry for Eve – Mia’s mother and the invisible cage she was in. This indeed is a story about cages, two women trapped, chains are not always visible. Indeed you could go as far as say that Colin was also trapped/limited by his circumstances too.
This book raises so many issues – subtly, is doesn’t hit you over the head with them, but gently prods as your conscience and makes you consider the what if, what would I have done, how would I have reacted? And then it bowls you over with the totally surprising ending. Well done Mary Kubica! If this is your debut novel what gems to you planned for us in the future?
Grand Marais, Minnesota – Authors blog – http://www.marykubica.com/blog/
Post Script: The Troop – Nick Cutter
Reminiscent of early Stephen King horror stories.
Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books
Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins in this frightening novel written in the bestselling traditions of Stephen King and Scott Smith.
Boy Scouts live by the motto “Be Prepared.” However, nothing can prepare this group of young boys and their scoutmaster for what they encounter on a small, deserted island, as they settle down for a weekend of campfires, merit badges, and survival lessons.
Everything changes when a haggard stranger in tattered clothing appears out of nowhere and collapses on the campers’ doorstep. Before the night is through, this stranger will end up infecting one of the troop’s own with a bioengineered horror that’s straight out of their worst nightmares. Now stranded on the island with no communication to the outside world, the troop learns to battle much more than the elements, as they are pitted against something nature never intended…and eventually each other.
“Lean and crisp and over-the-top….Disquieting, disturbing,” says Scott Smith, author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan, The Troop is a visceral burn of a read that combines boldly drawn characters with a fantastically rendered narrative—a terrifying story you’ll never forget.
This is a striking, fast paced novel of action, desperation, unimaginable horror and so much more; this is also a story about life, coming of age, a study of personalities and individual responses to stress, fear, danger and death. In effect this could be seen as a clever but cruel unethical experiment, a psychological experiment designed to test the reaction and fortitude of 5 adolescent boys trapped on a desolate isolated island facing unimaginable horrors, one from within their own group proves just as deadly as the external forces they face. This is a great portrait of the blackness within, and the heroism of a few.
The emergence of a youthful sociopath was a particularly harrowing portrait; in particular I found the kitty cat scenes disturbing and horrific, Cutter paints a picture to be viewed with a hand half covering the eyes, the internal debate to continue reading or not is brutal, continuing won in the end. Cutter has provided many scenes of such graphic realism I remember why I gave up Stephen King novels many years ago. Cutters words are graphic, realistic and mind blowing. This book is not for the faint hearted.
The secret of the success of this work of science fiction is that it could easily be science fact.