Books in April

This month’s selection of books was entirely driven by the Waterstones buy-one-get-one-half-price tables, where I couldn’t limit myself to just one pair, and had to buy two pairs. I can’t lie, the shiny covers had something to do with it.

Laura Purcell – The Silent Companions
I do love a good gothic horror, and this is a very solid one. It follows the traditional constructs for the most part, fairly standard characters and ideas but very competently done. The narrative wavers a little between suggesting that it’s all in people’s heads versus truly supernatural explanations, but it was always on the boundary rather than lurching dramatically from committing one way then the other, but in the end there was a good, complete resolution that made everything clear. Really entertaining, and I look forward to more from this author.

Jessie Burton – The Muse
Like Jessie Burton’s previous work, The Miniaturist, I found this rather predictable. It was only the overall length of the book that had me looking for alternate explanations, when in fact my early guesses about several elements had been right. However I guessed because they made sense for the story, not because the character choices or transitions really joined up. I found the sections set in Spain underwhelming, with underdeveloped and annoying characters for the most part. 1960’s London was more interesting and I would have preferred to spend more time there, Odelle’s story was what really interested me, not really the story of the paintings. I did read most of the second half of the book at a pace to get through it faster.

Sarah Maria Griffin – Spare and Found Parts
This didn’t really work. I never settled into the world or the characters, nothing quite felt like it made sense. Something caused by computers has caused some sort of plague and resulted in most people needing artificial limbs? That makes no sense. The level of technology that remains is incredibly confusing (fully functioning mechanical hearts but no vehicles?) and leaves a set up that just makes no sense at all. If the story and the characters had been better then it would have been possible to ignore those problems, but they weren’t. There are some small slivers of nice ideas in there somewhere, but there just wasn’t enough.

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