Little Nothing by Marisa Silver

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Little Nothing by Marisa Silver

Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A dark fairy tale that pulses with life and anger, Little Nothing is a remarkable piece of fiction - fantastically written and beautifully crafted. A tale that stands with those famous fairy tales written years ago, yet a book immensely relevant for our modern day society.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: March 2017
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1786071279

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In an unnamed country at the beginning of the last century, a peasant couple longs for a child. In despair they turn to gypsy tonics and archaic prescriptions, and one cold wintery night, the couple's wish comes true. But the silence that follows the birth forewarns of darker days to come. Strangers look on askance and fall speechless in the child's presence, and villagers protectively hush their children as they pass on narrow market lanes. Pavla is no ordinary child, but then this is no ordinary tale.

Marisa Silver is a New York Times best selling author, known for previous books such as Mary Coin, The God of War, and No Direction Home. In Little Nothing she turns in a new direction - exploring a magical, dream-like world, and yet still retaining the powerful prose and strong metaphors that make this literary fiction. It's a bold move, and one that, for the most part, works extremely well.

Pavla is a young girl growing up in an unnamed, war-torn country. Born to poor parents after years of trying, she's the result of gypsy magics. Beautiful and kind, Pavla is far smaller than the ordinary child - and as she grows into womanhood, her parents begin to fear for the child's future, and whether she'll be able to find a husband given her diminished stature. Pushing their child into unnecessary medical procedures, they soon find Pavla changed beyond all recognition... Along the way, Pavla meets a young boy called Danilo, and the reader follows Danilo's story too - one just as compelling as Pavla's. Seeing these characters grow, change and go through incredible journeys makes for a rather remarkable read - one that moves and delights the readers as much as it fills them with horror and dread for the fates of these characters.

This is no light fairy tale, but one that harks back to the days of the true Brothers Grimm tales - filled with death, destruction and horror. A comment on the book likens it to both Franz Kafka and Angela Carter, which I found very apt - there's some rather shocking moments of body horror, blended with a bloody and dark fairy tale that carries with it an immensely strong feminist message. The terrible journey that Pavla embarks on is contrasted well with that of Danilo - as she embraces the raw, primal side of herself, he discovers responsibility and family - growing to be a man over years of hardship and struggle. These are characters who you will root for - cry for and with and desperately turn the pages in the hope of finding a happy ending for them, even if you know it's somewhat unlikely.

This is a story filled with anger, passion, and raw ferociousness. It's always compelling - even if Pavla's story occasionally feels a little detached, the reader is kept going by the slightly more grounded events of Danilo's tale. A powerful allegory, in Little Nothing Marisa Silver has created a tale that will stay with the reader for a long time. The rage that courses through these pages is one that feels incredibly relavent, and elevates this story to something far greater than it could have been. Forget giving young girls Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, but pass them this - it may be dark, it may be gruesome, but it conveys the anger of a woman shaped and molded by the pressures of society into something she has no desire to be, and the consequences of ignoring that rage and desire. A powerful read - thanks to the publishers for the copy.

For further reading I recommend The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan - another tale that embraces the spirit of Angela Carter's work, and crafts it into something new, inspiring, and completely relevant for our society today.

Buy Little Nothing by Marisa Silver at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Little Nothing by Marisa Silver at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Little Nothing by Marisa Silver at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Little Nothing by Marisa Silver at Amazon.com.


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