Book review: The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood, 2019

This review is going to get me into trouble, at home if nowhere else. Because The Testaments was such a disappointment! While living up to the standards of her earlier works was always going to be difficult, some elements of the novel were reminiscent of fan-fic – based in the world so chillingly described inContinue reading “Book review: The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood, 2019”

Review: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce, 1890

Recently I came across this gem of a post on the ever-wonderful LitHub about the best short stories ever written, and it prompted me to guiltily read more of this neglected (by me) genre (although this is a great list, there are some obvious omissions; Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder is missing for aContinue reading “Review: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce, 1890”

Book review: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, 2019

When is a novel not a novel? When it is, as here, a collection of loosely related narratives, or a “collage of well-composed individual stories” as one reviewer described it, without much in the way of plot. Is the distinction an important one? I think so, but let’s come back to that question. Girl, Woman,Continue reading “Book review: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, 2019”

Book review: In Between the Sheets by Ian McEwan, 1978

In hindsight I don’t think I should have gone back to this very early collection of short stories by McEwan, his second volume after the well received First Love, Last Rites. They read as works by an immature writer (although McEwan was thirty when they were published), out to shock but largely failing to doContinue reading “Book review: In Between the Sheets by Ian McEwan, 1978”

Book review: The Man Who Would be King, by Rudyard Kipling, 1888

The Man Who Would be King runs to not much more than 20 pages. It was first published in Kipling’s collection The Phantom Rickshaw and other Eerie Tales and later in Wee Willie Winkie and Other Child Stories. So there can be no argument that Kipling conceived the story as an adventure tale for children. But it isContinue reading “Book review: The Man Who Would be King, by Rudyard Kipling, 1888”

Book review: The Mercies, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, 2020

The raw harshness of The Mercies is pretty unrelenting. Based on a real-life seventeenth century witch trial, Hargrave’s novel is either “an atmospheric tale of self-sufficient womanhood and sexual suspicion in a tight-knit island community” as the publisher would claim, or an extraordinarily bleak portrait of how awful life was for women and minorities inContinue reading “Book review: The Mercies, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, 2020”