Many will know George R. R. Martin from his Song of Ice and Fire series (better known as the TV series adaptation, Game of Thrones). I’ve always been intrigued by the premise of the series, I don’t like watching TV, and I haven’t read any decent fantasy in a very long time. But the books are so damn long and there are so many of them. Would they be worth it?
My love for horror has recently been rekindled. With yet another dreadful Saw instalment out there, one would almost forget that there’s still plenty of original stuff around. Not only that, older works are increasingly at risk of being forgotten. To support my own memory as much as anything, here’s a quick overview of some good books I’ve read in the past month.
Blackwater is a Southern gothic family saga, tracking the lives of several generations of the Caskey family, as they make their fortune in the fictional town of Perdido, Alabama. Connecting the many subplots is the story of Elinor, a woman who mysteriously appears during a flood, marries one of the Caskeys, and proceeds to rule the clan. Oh, and she’s also a river monster.
I only picked Kinflicks because of its slightly raunchy cover – a scantily dressed young woman jumping into the air, her face drawn into an expression of pure ecstacy. Turns out the book is actually a coming of age novel about Ginny, who returns to the Virginian town she grew up in to look after her dying mother. Oh, and also because her husband has thrown her out for what she insists was not cheating. Promising start.
I have done very little reading over the past few months, and even less writing, because, well, life. That and the library still being closed. Fortunately things appear to be taking a turn for the better and I have discovered a little community library I’ve been borrowing books from. It’s little more than an oversized cupboard in a green space aptly named Old Library Wood. A bit of research suggests that its presence is part of an ongoing effort to make the area a safer and more pleasant space for local residents. Of course books should be part of that. Books are always a good idea.
The Dark Frontier is thrilling ride through the Weird West: a world which feels both excitingly familiar and exquisitely strange. Anyone who feels slightly bored by more traditional western stories will find plenty to enjoy in this new collection of genre-bending writing.
Never mind the pubs reopening, I thought as I was watching the news. It’s the library I’m excited about. As expected the experience wasn’t quite what it used to be. With face masks, a one way system and a limited assortment of books available things didn’t feel like they’d gone back to normal. But I’ve stumbled upon a real gem. I always love it when that happens.
The Gray Man of Smoke and Shadows is brief, shocking, and action-packed. An intense reading experience that feels like a vicious jab in the throat and left me wanting more.
Picture this. A novella about two sisters: Sis and Amy. One of them alive, one of them dead. The living one muscular and feisty. The dead one reincarnated… as a chainsaw. Together they set off to get their revenge on Amy’s killers. Cue rampage, gore, mayhem. And, in case you missed it, a talking chainsaw.
With the library still closed I continue to read whatever books people throw at me. This week I’ve swapped my usual fiction for a true story: Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five. Its subtitle – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper – tells one exactly what to expect: a story that has been told many times before and yet hasn’t. As Rubenhold rightly points out, the Ripper’s victims are often solely defined through their brief and fatal relation to their still unidentified killer. The Five aims to set this inaccuracy right and tell the untold stories of the victims’ lives rather than their deaths.