Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

Reviewed by Harriet Four years after Emma Healey’s best selling Elizabeth is Missing (reviewed here) comes her second novel, Whistle in the Dark. It’s a psychological thriller of sorts, but don’t expect any murders. This is an exploration of the troubled mind of a mother who can’t solve the mystery of her teenage daughter’s disappearance.…

The Akeing Heart by Peter Haring Judd

Reviewed by Simon How you approach The Akeing Heart will depend largely on how familiar you are with the names Sylvia Townsend Warner, Valentine Ackland, and Elizabeth Wade White. These three are in the subtitle of the book, which declares itself to be their letters. If this is the first you’ve heard of them, or you’ve…

From the Archives: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport

The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses  One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by Harriet Devine On 17 July 1918, four young women walked down twenty-three steps into the cellar of a house in Ekaterinburg. The eldest was twenty-two, the…

Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato

Reviewed by Alice Farrant For seven years, Florence, Lucy and Edgar have lived in the wake of Frank’s death. No one mentions Frank’s passing and so Grandmother, Daughter-in-law and Son live under the weight of the grief Frank left behind. When Florence dies Lucy is forced to face a reality she has been avoiding, and…

Interview with Jesmyn Ward, author of Sing, Unburied, Sing

Interview by Lucy Unwin Jesmyn Ward is certainly highly decorated. At a recent reading, the roll call of her awards felt like they’d fill the full hour; shortlisting for The Women’s Prize for Fiction tagged to the end of an already weighty list. But this Mississippi author was once rejected by book agents who thought her literary…

An Interview with Jill Dawson

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Interview by Victoria Jill Dawson’s wonderful new novel, The Tell-Tale Heart,  recounts the story of Patrick, a womanising lecturer who has recently received a heart transplant. By chance he discovers the identity of his donor, and from that…

The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

Reviewed by Alice Farrant Mona lives a quiet life as a dollmaker.  At face value she appears to be an ordinary woman, but in private she runs a side-service helping grieving mothers overcome the loss of a child. As she begins a new romance she is pulled back to her past in 70s Birmingham where…

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

Reviewed by Harriet Asymmetry is defined as ‘lack of equality or equivalence between parts’, a definition that applies both to a theme of this brilliant debut novel and to its structure. As anyone who’s read a review of the book will know, it’s divided into three parts, the first two of which appear to be…

From the Archives: Bedsit Disco Queen by Tracey Thorn

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by Annabel Gaskell I wish Tracey Thorn was my cousin, sister even. I can say that – for we share not only a maiden name, but a love of David Cassidy, a fascination with Morrissey,…

The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox

Reviewed by Annabel When Knox’s debut Sirens, which I reviewed here, was published in January 2017, it caused ripples. Here was a perfectly formed first novel, a crime thriller with a disgraced detective at its heart set in the nighttime economy of Manchester. I described it as ‘The Wire meets Line of Duty in Manchester’. It remained the…

Souvenir by Rolf Potts

Reviewed by Liz Dexter This book is part of the Object Lessons series, which exists to highlight the hidden lives of ordinary things. This one is about travel souvenirs brought home by fairly standard people; other volumes consider, for example, rust, dust, traffic and luggage. If they’re anything like Souvenir, they’re a series to rush…

From the Archives: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by Simon Thomas At some point, Helen Oyeyemi will stop being notable for her youth – but, at 29 and with five novels under her belt, that day has not yet come. What should perhaps…

From the Archives: Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Translated by Joanne Turnbull Reviewed by Karen Langley Soviet Russia’s Best-Kept Literary Secret Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky could accurately be described as the lost writer of Russia’s Soviet era. Born in the Ukraine in 1887, after attending Kiev…

Happiness by Aminatta Forna

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin “You know how it is with white people. You say it’s race, they tell you you are mistaken. Then they say it’s because of your race when you say it is not.” So says one of the characters in Happiness. So it is with great caution that I, from my white…