Newest Literary Fiction Reviews

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  • Mcneil Fire.jpg

Fire on the Mountain by Jean McNeil

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

This is an unusual book, in style it feels like a novel by E M Forster; with a deep study at the minutiae of life and thought, yet the plot and content is thoroughly modern. The bulk of the story is told through the perspective of Nick, and we see his point of view on life around him. The main characters of the book, however, are Pieter and Riaan, as it is these characters who fascinate Nick and are the focus of his contemplation and crisis. Full Review

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The Last of the Greenwoods by Clare Morrall

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

Down in hidden railway carriages, deep behind foliage and further down Long Meadow Road than most care to go, live the Greenwood Brothers. They haven't spoken to each other in years, but one morning a letter arrives on their doorstep - a letter from a sister long thought dead...As the brothers are forced to confront painful memories of a past that both tried to keep buried, the post-woman who delivered the letter struggles with secrets of her own... Full Review

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The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi

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

The Baghdad Clock is a tale of two friends growing up during the first and second Iraqi war. Shahad Al Rawi uses magic realism to illustrate the displacement felt by a young girl and her neighbourhood. The novel introduces us to the various characters surrounding the protagonist. They are full of life and yet never seem to add anything to the central narrative. Rawi, it would seem, has a problem with telling a story. Full Review

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The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements

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

Maybe you've heard about Scarcross Hall? Hidden on the old coffin path that winds from the village to the moor top, the villagers only speak of it in hushed tones - of how it's a foreboding place filled with evil. Mercy Booth has lived there since birth, and she's always loved the grand house and its isolation, but a recurrence of strange events begins to unsettle her. From objects disappearing through to a shadowy presence sensed in the house, mysteries come to light that can only be solved by Mercy unearthing long-buried secrets. And will a dark stranger help Mercy protect everything she has come to love or tear it from her grasp? Full Review

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The Execution of Justice by Friedrich Durrenmatt and John E Woods (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime

It's 1957, and we're somewhere in Switzerland, and there's just one case on everyone's lips – the simple fact that a politician has gone into the crowded room of one of those 'the place to go' restaurants, and point blank shot a professor everyone there must have known, and ferried a British companion to the airport in his chauffeur-driven Rolls before handing himself in to face the murder rap. Of course he's found guilty, even if the gun involved has managed to disappear. He's certainly of much interest, not only to our narrator, a young lawyer called Spaet – even if he rarely gets to frequent such establishments with such people, he is eager to know more, especially once he is actually tasked by the man in hand to look into things a second time. But what's this, where he opens his testimony about the affair with the conclusion, that he himself will need to turn killer to redress the balance? Full Review

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The Impostor by Javier Cercas and Frank Wynne (translator)

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

Enric Marco is without doubt an extraordinary man. A veteran of the Spanish Civil War, honoured for his bravery on the battlefield. A political prisoner of two fascist regimes. A survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. A prominent figure in the clandestine resistance against Franco's tyranny. A tireless warrior for social justice and the defence of human rights. A national hero. But the most extraordinary thing about Enric Marco is this: that he is really none of these things. He is an impostor. And Javier Cercas sets out to tell his story – the true story of Spain's most notorious liar. Full Review

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A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe

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

Sante was a baby when she was washed ashore in a sea-chest laden with treasure. It seems she is the sole survivor of the tragic sinking of a ship carrying migrants and refugees. Her people. Fourteen years on she's a member of Mama Rose's unique and dazzling circus. But, from their watery grave, the unquiet dead are calling Sante to avenge them. A bamboo flute. A golden bangle. A ripening mango which must not fall... if Sante is to tell their story and her own. Full Review

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The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha and Eric M B Becker (translator)

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

On the surface, young housewife Euridice Gusmao has it all. A nice-enough, parent-pleasing husband with a steady banking job, two young children upon whom to dote, an immaculate home complete with maid. That's all anyone could ever want, isn't it? Not Euridice. She has an inexplicable ache inside her for something more, like many of us. Yet each of her pet projects, from a desire to publish a recipe book to starting a cottage sewing industry in her living room, are met with scorn from her stern husband Antenor. He wants a wife who doesn't draw attention to herself, whose only domains are her house and her family. Full Review

Companions by Christina Hesselholdt and Paul Russell Garrett (translator)

3star.jpg Literary Fiction

Companions is written as a series of monologues, where six middle-aged friends take it in turns to narrate scenes from their lives, charting the intimate details of their holidays, dinner parties, families, marriages, affairs and work lives in a style that mixes honesty and openness with fantasy and evasion. The charm of the novel lies in the way the friends' voices bicker with one another among the pages, as we discover that there are always several sides to the same story. We learn most about the characters not through what they say about themselves but through what the others say about them. Along the way, there is heartbreak and grief, but this is always offset by an abundance of humour and a writing style that never fails to be refreshingly light-hearted. Full review...

Stranger by David Bergen

4star.jpg Literary Fiction

Stranger tells the story of Íso, a young Guatemalan woman, and her affair with an American doctor. When an accident forces him to return to the States, she is left pregnant and lonely. Her anguish becomes even more profound when her daughter is abducted, and taken to live with the doctor and his wife. What followed - tales of the journey Íso embarked upon in the hope of finding her baby - was an amazing story of the lengths a mother will go to in order to save her child. Full review...

Rain Falls On Everyone by Clar Ni Chonghaile

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

It's a cliché that the Irish have a picturesque turn of phrase, but clichés only exist because they're true. Roddy Doyle put it differently in a recent interview with Writing magazine, when he said that With Irish, there's another language bubbling under the English. However you express it, that art of expression is woven into every other line of Clár's prose. Pick a page at random and you'll find something like the sickness that had come to roost in her home like a cursed owl or like he was God, Jesus and Justin Timberlake rolled into one or a low sobbing, slow and inevitable as rain on a Sunday: expressions that catch your smile unawares, or tear at your heart in their mundane sadness. Or sometimes both. Full review...

Sinful Words by Hesene Mete

4star.jpg Literary Fiction

When we meet him, Behram is a student at the school of theology. He loves God with a passion and has a determination to live a life dedicated to God and to live by His rules. He rents a property from Lulu Khan and his wife, Lady Geshtina and Khan invites Behram to his own home for a visit. It's a delightful place and the wealth of the couple is obvious as is their standing within the local community: Lady Geshtina's late father is buried in what amounts to a mausoleum, but it's not all this which enchants Behram. The couple have twin children and Behram is taken, enthralled by the daughter, Nagina. Full review...

The Gurugu Pledge by Juan-Tomas Avila Laurel

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

Juan Tomas Avila Laurel, one of Equatorial Guinea's best-known dissident writers, is an author who deserves to be read the world over. With The Gurugu Pledge, he's captured a an angry and incredibly urgent slice of the migrant experience – a snapshot of the dangers faced by those crossing the African continent in search of the barbed wire fences at Melilla- the Spanish enclave on the North Eastern tip of Morocco. Full review...

The Waking by Matthew Smith

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

Isabel Sykes, 23, recounts the recent attempt she made to come to terms with the loss of her mother, the acclaimed but psychologically disturbed novelist Marianne Sykes. Marianne died in an unexplained house fire when Isabel was ten. Inspired by the appearance of Imogen Taylor, an enchanting young woman who wants to write a PhD on her mother's work, Isabel plunges into the depths of her past and an intense new friendship. After discovering that Imogen is not who she seems to be, Isabel must face the darkest moments from her childhood in order to protect her family from more tragedy. She receives unexpected help from beyond the grave: in the strange, glittering fragments of her mother's last, unfinished work, 'Midnightsong'. Full review...

Autumn by Ali Smith

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

The first part in Ali Smith's four part 'Seasonal' series, Autumn is the story of Daniel Gluck and Elisabeth Demand, unexpected friends who used to be neighbours when Elisabeth was a little girl. In a series of memories and dreams, we discover their friendship from Daniel babysitting Elisabeth through to her visits with him now that he is in a home and drawing towards the end of his extremely long and fascinating life. Along the way, we get a wonderfully written insight into time, memories, and the fleeting nature of life itself. Full review...

Malacqua by Nicola Pugliese and Shaun Whiteside (translator)

3star.jpg Literary Fiction

We're in Naples, in recent history, and it's raining. It will in fact rain for four days solid – and seeing as it's October everyone's dressed for all seasons and expecting a bit of grey, but this is taking the proverbial. It's also making the city rather dangerous – when people report a huge sink-hole appearing in one street it's soon found that a pair of cars went into it, and two people have died, and more passed on with a whole building collapsing. What's more, some strange noises are coming from an abandoned civic palace. Is the city being told something by these strange events, or can a journalist find a logic behind the circumstances? Full review...

Petite Fleur by Iosi Havilio

4.5star.jpg Literary Fiction

Every now and then you read a book that leaves you thinking “well I have no idea what just happened but I know I enjoyed it”. This is how I felt after reading Petite Fleur, the fifth novel (perhaps 'long paragraph' would be more appropriate) from cult Argentinian writer Iosi Havilio. Full review...

Some of Us Glow More Than Others by Tania Hershman

4.5star.jpg Short Stories

I won't be alone in stating that reading short story collections can be slightly awkward. Going through from A-Z, witnessing a bounty of ideas and characters in short order can be too much, but do you have the right to pick and choose according to what appeals, and what time you have to fill? The sequence has carefully been considered, surely. Such would appear to be the case here. The last time I read one of this author's collections, with The White Road, the only real difficulty was holding back and rationing them, but here you not only get a whopping forty pieces of writing, they are also spread into sections. Full review...