Forthcoming Publications

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Review of

The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen and David Hackston (translator)

3.5star.jpg Crime

Meet Henri. With a mind so much more focused on maths and calculations than it is other human beings, he's perfect for his job in the insurance company – until they decide he's not a team-member, that they'd prefer everyone to be all open-plan, holistic and keen on stupid-as workshopping. This is when he finds his brother has died, having a heart attack while busy changing his Volvo's radio channel, and has left Henri everything. Unfortunately (or otherwise) that 'everything' is just an adventure park, and nothing else. YouMeFun is so not what Henri wants to occupy his mind, but he perks up a little when he sees huge holes in the finances – it runs at a steady money-moving pace, despite some desultory staff ideas, but loans have been made out and the amount vanished. Fortunately (or otherwise) some people are quickly on the scene to explain that missing money – it's been turned into a gambling debt that has also now been inherited by Henri, and the activities of these guys are not conducive to getting a cheap life insurance plan... Full Review



Review of

Her Perfect Family by Teresa Driscoll

5star.jpg Thrillers

The novel begins by introducing you to Gemma, who at first instance appears to be your average student, faced with the familiar horrifying realisation, at the eleventh hour, that her graduation outfit is all wrong. Suddenly, Gemma receives an eerie message stating He is not who he says he is…, paving the way for the sinister tone that remains throughout the novel. In a twist of events, and after a change of outfit, Gemma is shot in the midst of her graduation ceremony. With Gemma then in a coma, what follows is a complex whodunit with a list of suspects that continues to grow the further you read. Full Review



Review of

Fledgling by Lucy Hope

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Bavaria, 1900. Our scene is a most peculiar hilltop house, built bit by bit over the decades, and now looking imperiously down on the village and woods below. It's an eccentric house, to host eccentrics, so the library shelving system is not as we'd know it, the roof is retractable, there is a steam-powered, hand-operated lift system cut through it, and so on. At the moment it houses an ex-soldier with PTSD and a passion for the long-standing family hobby of taxidermy, a woman who does nothing but quibble, kvetch and sing opera loudly, and the dying grandma to our heroine, Cassie, a young lass who has to do all the maintenance of this bizarre machine-like abode. Oh but it's also going to house someone or something else, when crashing through Cassie's bedroom window one stormy day is a cherub. And if you think such a heavenly arrival is going to be a completely great and wonderful thing, think again... Full Review



Review of

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

4star.jpg Historical Fiction

Robin Blyth is nudged into a job in the Civil Service, much to his chagrin. There he meets Edwin Courcey and learns that the streets of London are threaded with magic. Desperate to remove a curse that threatens to swallow him, Robin follows Edwin to the countryside, where the hedgegrows bristle with incantations and the people shimmer with power. There they uncover a sinister plot that threatens the lives of all magicians in the British Isles. Full Review

6 JANUARY 2022


Review of

The Mermaid in the Millpond by Lucy Strange and Pam Smy

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

There is no mermaid in the millpond. That at least is what Bess is telling herself. Neither will there be a friend for her in amongst all the other kids, who have had their entire childhoods sold to the mill-owners by the London workhouse they used to call home. Bess knows there is no time for friendship in a hand-to-mouth, every man for himself kind of existence. But despite herself Bess does find a bit of a kindred spirit in the slight little Dot, and despite everything that life has taught her about betrayal and how befriending people only leads to harm, there might be a glimmer of companionship in the tired-out mill workers. But surely that doesn't mean there is any truth in the existence of the mermaid? Full Review



Review of

Red is My Heart by Antoine Laurain, Le Sonneur and Jane Aitken (translator)

3.5star.jpg Literary Fiction

Antoine Laurain books have always been black and white and read in my house. And so was this one, although I could have spelled that more accurately – this one was, and is, black and white and red. Yes, he has an artistic collaborator on this piece, and I think it's possible to say not one page lacks the influence of some striking visual ideas. Full Review



Review of

Escape Room by Christopher Edge

3star.jpg Confident Readers

I've seen junior variants of the 'Choose Your Own Adventure' format cover escape rooms – the process by which a character or characters start by being trapped in a specific location, and have to solve problems in order to get their way out. What I've not done (alongside experience one for myself – for that would require actual friends) is seen a prose book describing people in such an adventure, with the regular second person narrative replaced by the first. Here, Ami and four other tweenagers, all new to each other and booked into the game without any of their friends, are a team – starting out at the game's main offices, where they're told they and their quest for The Answer are a world-changer. But could watching people engage with such a pastime, despite the ramped-up threat levels, change much in the world of literature? Full Review

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