Newest General Fiction Reviews

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Murmuration by Robert Lock

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction, Historical Fiction

Murmuration follows the lives of a host of characters from 1863 to the present day. From a risqué comic to a fortune teller, we see the birth of Blackpool and its steadily fading glamour. There is a hint of mysticism to the tale, with the mesmerising dance of starlings over the pier acting as an anchor throughout the distinct narratives here, drawing together disparate stories of lives captivated by the sea. Full Review

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Smoking Kills by Antoine Laurain and Louise Rogers-Lalaurie (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

Meet Fabrice Valantine. He's a headhunter, and a successful one too, in an office in Paris. All around him however his world is changing – yes, there is a new ban on smoking in all workplaces. Goaded by his non-smoking wife, even though they met over an ashtray, of sorts, he sees a hypnotist who had success with a mutual friend in stopping their nicotine habit. The session seems to have been successful, however he faces the prospect of having such a change to his own personality, his imbued habits and lifestyle, with fear, when he realises it will never again grant him any pleasure. He needs this pleasure when further changes at work come about – but it's what he replaces the habit with that will surprise the most. Full Review

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The Island by M A Bennett

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Teens, General Fiction

A contemporary take on the savage classic Lord of the Flies: a group of mismatched, modern-day teenagers must fight to survive on a deserted island. Link is a fish out of water. Newly arrived from America, he is finding it hard to settle into the venerable and prestigious Osney School. Who knew there could be so many strange traditions to understand? And what kind of school ranks its students by how fast they can run round the school quad - however ancient that quad may be? When Link runs the slowest time in years, he immediately becomes the butt of every school joke. And some students are determined to make his life more miserable than others... Full Review

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The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction, Literary Fiction

William Woolf is a letter detective, working in the Dead Letters Depot in East London. He spends his days deciphering smudged addresses, tracking down mysterious people and reading endless letters of love, guilt, death, hope, and everyday life. Full Review

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Marsha's Deal by Laura Solomon

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories, General Fiction, Fantasy

Marsha didn't have an easy ride in life the first time around. She'd been afflicted with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, a rare disease which turned parts of her body to bone when they were damaged. Finally she was unable to stand her life any longer and went to Dignitas, the Swiss euthanasia clinic. She'd thought that would be the end, but after cremation her body went straight to hell and she found herself face-to-face with the devil. And that was when she made the pact. In exchange for details about some of those who had been close to her - their strengths and weaknesses - she would be reborn on the same day to the same parents, but would live her life free of disease. Full Review

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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Fantasy, General Fiction, Teens

Miryem comes from a long line of moneylenders – but her Father isn't very good at it at all. Lending freely and rarely collecting, he leaves the family on the edge of poverty, until Miryem must step in. Hardening her heart and collecting what is owed from local villagers, she becomes a person of great interest when she borrows a pouch of silver pennies from her Grandfather and returns it full of gold, soon becoming entangled with an array of strange creatures, from the dark beings that haunt the wood through to a King who's eager to exploit Miryem's talents – she soon becomes aware that her skills may be more trouble than they're worth… Full Review

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Four by Andy Jones

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

Friends are nice, and couple friends are doubly nice, giving you like minded people to spend time with. A pair of pairs, or a couple of couples. Married couple Sally and Al have known Mike for ages – Sally from university, Al through work. His new girlfriend Faye completes their foursome and though she doesn't have their shared history, she's a lot of fun – a bit younger than the rest of them, an actress and so on. Full Review

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A Child Called Happiness by Stephan Collishaw

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

Mazowe Valley, 2011 – Natalie hears a sharp cry that she thinks at first might be a bird, but turns out to be a baby, abandoned to the birds on the kopje. She is there with her uncle and they take the child, back to his farm initially and then to a local village where it is taken in. They do not report it to the police. Full Review

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Mr Peacock's Possessions by Lydia Syson

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Historical Fiction, General Fiction

On a remote volcanic island off the coast of New Zealand, a family of settlers struggle to make such an unforgiving place a home. When a ship appears, they feel that their wishes have been granted and their community reinvigorated – but high hopes are swiftly dashed when a vulnerable boy disappears. As both settlers and newcomers come together in the search for the child, they uncover far, far more than they were looking for – discovering dark secrets about both the island and those who inhabit it. Full Review

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Underwater Breathing by Cassandra Parkin

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

A tumble-down Edwardian house that will sooner rather than later tumble down the mud cliffs and away into the sea is where we meet Jacob and Ella. They share a bathroom in the turret, old and cold and not really supposed to be used…but this is where they hide away from the shouts of their parents' arguments. Here they play the Underwater Breathing game, submerging themselves in the water holding their breath for as long as they can. For sixteen year old Jacob it's just a way of drowning out the arguments…but for Ella it is more than that. She is terrified of the sea, of the fact that it will come and swallow their house. She needs to know that she can survive under water. She has to practice. Full Review

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The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews LGBT Fiction

The Great Believers follows a group of friends whose lives are devastated by the AIDS crisis in Chicago during the late 1980’s. Beginning in 1985, the reader follows Yale and his friends as they come to terms with the increasingly virulent illness spreading throughout their community, alongside their demonisation at the hands of a conservative America. Thirty years later Fiona, a devoted friend to Yale, is searching for her estranged daughter on the streets of Paris, trying to rebuild a relationship beset by memories and old hurt. Full Review

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The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

In 1993, two teenagers stumble across a horrific scene on the beach as they're sneaking home after an un-authorised night out: a body of a young woman, partially stripped, totally deceased. The find hits the girls in different ways. Nell becomes obsessed with finding the identity of the girl – who she calls the Brighton Mermaid because of a distinguishing tattoo – whereas Jude just wants to forget it ever happened. Fast forward 25 years and Nell is still haunted by what happened that night. With few leads to go on, the Police closed the case without cracking it, and so it remains one of those unsolved mysteries that become part of local folklore, but Nell struggles to let sleeping dogs, or even sleeping mermaids, lie. As for Jude, well no one knows if the discovery still haunts her because no one knows where she is. Shortly after that fateful night, she too disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. There's more to Brighton than Stag Dos and Gay Pride, it seems. Full Review

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Falling Short by Lex Coulton

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction, Humour, Women's Fiction

Lex Coulton's debut novel is a story about mistakes, failures, and relationships. The main protagonist, Frances Pilgrim, is a sixth form English teacher who has recently fallen out with her best friend Jackson, a work colleague, and is grappling with the increasingly eccentric behaviour of her mother. This relationship is complicated by the fact that Frances's father disappeared at sea when she was five years old. Full Review

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Go Ask Fannie Farmer by Elisabeth Hyde

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

Eighty-one-year-old Murray Blaire hoped for the best when he waited for his three children to arrive one Friday night. He might be a retired lawyer, a state legislator, elected congressman and now an amateur farmer but he knew that there could be trouble when Ruth and George arrived. Ruth, a corporate lawyer, would find fault and want to talk about him going into a retirement home. George, a nurse, would argue and Lizzie, a professor of English Literature, who lived locally and kept and visited him regularly, would be unpredictable. Murray hoped that all would go smoothly, but that simply wasn't going to happen. Full Review

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The Particular Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

Masha's son Gabriel died some years ago. She'd been a single parent with help from her friend, Edward, who had grieved as much as Masha and whilst Edward has moved on (his boyfriend moved out in the immediate aftermath of the drowning, but there's now a new love interest) Masha is still stricken, feeling that it would somehow be disloyal to Gabriel if she was to be happy. An independent, rebellious woman has somehow been diminished. Full Review

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The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland by Nicolai Houm and Anna Paterson (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction, Literary Fiction

Jane Ashland is dying. That's a description of a very early scene here – but also, of course, a platitude that can apply to all of us. Jane's life, if anything, is going up and down in levels of pleasure, energy – sobriety – in these pages, but we soon learn that it recently found a very deeply dark down place. Here then, scattered through a timeline-bending narrative, we have her days finding a Lincolnesque lover as a student in New York, glimpses of therapy, a drive to find her ancestors that takes her from rural America to Norway – and a trip there with a new-found friend to watch the musk oxen, of all things. And nowhere in sight is anything like a platitude… Full Review

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Tale of a Tooth by Allie Rogers

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

Danny lives in a small Sussex town with his mother, Natalie. Life is poor, but they manage - until they're threatened by a benefits sanction. A Job Centre employee looks to be their salvation - but her impact on the family goes far beyond what they first expect, and the resulting changes are described to the reader through the naive yet perceptive and wholly original eyes of four-year-old Danny. Full Review

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Claudia by Anthony Trevelyan

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

When Claudia is called to the reception of her Manchester Office block to meet a visitor, she doesn't expect it to be her father figure – a man she hasn't seen for fifteen years. Samson Glaze – otherwise known as Wild Samson, The Aztec and The Sun King, walked out of Claudia's life and into a world of success as a solar panel salesman – but now he's returned and he needs Claudia's help. Reggie, Samson's son, has joined a mysterious cult called Tarantula, a group who prepare for the end of the world and encourage humanity to embrace their impending doom. Claudia's journey takes her far from her home in Manchester to the end of the world – where encounters with hammer-wielding assassins make things very difficult indeed… Full Review

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The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

James DeWitt and Danny Allen are both men in their early thirties whose lives haven't taken them where they were supposed to go. At an all time low time for both of them, the two men reconnect and slowly find they're exactly what the other needs. Together, they help each other put their lives back together. This is a beautiful story about friendship and what it really means to help another person. Full Review