Having had a couple of days off work with a very annoying reappearance of an old health problem there was only one thing I could do – read!
I have long admired Catherine Fisher – Incarceron and Sapphique are amazing fantasy novels. Her latest The Obsidian Mirror is another triumph. It promises a whole series to follow – and I can’t wait. Oberon Venn is Jake’s godfather since his own father mysteriously disappeared some time before. But Venn is very obsessive and secretive and Jake is convinced Venn murdered his father. This is the page turning totally gripping First Book of the Chronoptika – an adventure in time and space, with all the elements of a country house mystery and a thriller set in the worst parts of Victorian London. A literary style novel that fully engages the excitement as well as giving food for thought.
Interestingly – as I finished The Obsidian Mirror there arrived a publishers proof of one of my other favourite authors – Eoin Colfer. Warp: Book 1 – The Reluctant Assassin has many similar elements – time travel, Victorian London slums, engaging characters and a ‘thrill a minute’ approach. I imagine the style will appeal to established Colfer fans when it is published later this year – and it is a thoroughly enjoyable, fun, thrilling read.
To make a change from both of those I followed up with the latest Tim Bowler Sea of Whispers. This is an exploration of growing up in a remote community, and of the hostility certain small communities exhibit to change or difference. Hetty has always felt different, and has a sense of otherness that marks her out from her peers and community. The arrival of an old woman washed up on the shore of the remote island in a storm unleashes a series of events and actions that appear to doom all involved. Tim always writes with a style and elegance that makes his novels very readable – well worth trying.
A busy month and an unconscious choice of thrillers for the summer month. Not sure why but a real mix made for some enjoyable reading. Nicola Upson has chosen to have Josephine Tey as the main character in her novels – and I read a second – Two for Sorrow, and found it as enjoyable as the first I had read, An Expert in Murder. The character Tey is a playwright and author as was Tey herself, and has a friend who is an Inspector in the Police – a superb ploy on which to base a series of novels. I shall read more! In fact Upson’s Inspector is a similar character to Tey’s own Inspector Grant who features in To Love and Be Wise, a short but fulfilling read where a Hollywood photographer going missing in the English countryside seems to provide an insoluble riddle. A lovely read!
Then to more gritty titles… I find Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar novels a little samey so was delighted to find Just One Look. This is the story of the collapse of a family who, on the surface, appear to have an ideal existence. Grace met her husband when recovering from a major accident at a theatre gig and they now have a good marriage and a good life, which for some reason falls apart the day Grace brings home a pack of photos she’s just had developed and there is an old photo somehow slipped into the family snapshots. Her husband, as a young man, is seen in the photo… This thriller has several grim deaths, a handful of really unpleasant characters and a plot that keeps you enthralled from page 1 but you always want to know why, so you just have to keep reading. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is another of those iconic characters who, if they were slightly less well adapted would be a complete drop out. But Jack is always in the midst of the action, and always one step ahead of the authorities. Gone Tomorrow is a another super read which starts with a seeming suicide bomber on the subway in NY, and ends in political intrigue.
Also, with much less grit, a great deal of humour and a frisson of sci-fi Jasper Fforde’s The Woman Who Died A Lot is the next Thursday Next novel. I love these, such fun, with all the thriller elements but a wacky world where book characters, golems and werewolves police the literary world, and where big business is run from Swindon! Read the series – they are great!
This is an interesting ‘film noir’ type tale. Set in the 1940’s (in the main) Arnold Rubens builds a memory machine to save his daughter Amaryllis – from what we are not quite sure to start – her own destructive will, from some threat in her childhood that is dimly lurking on the edges of her memory, or from the ever nearer threat of war? Many of the characters appear to be much less straightforward than we think as we first meet them, and the hero Ezra is all too human, and totally engaging. The book is peopled with believable characters who deal with an improbable but authentic sci-fi plot, the science is never heavy and the plot moves at a pace, but yet with a sense of mystery so you are completely hooked. A real sit down and read book – I hope there are more to come from Sally!
A complete contrast was the contemporary novel set in America – Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur. This is the story of orphan Elise brought up by her uncle and aunt who has some growing up to do as she starts her middle school, and try to find out who and what she is as she matures. Eight keys help her find out her history and help her think about her future. A very engaging read.