The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder

Reviewed by Max Dunbar Why Everything Old Is New Again If I had to recommend a historian on the twentieth century terrors to someone who was coming new to it, I would probably choose Timothy Snyder. His Bloodlands is a masterful study of how the Nazis and Communists half destroyed Europe. The follow up, Black Earth, was derided on…

84K by Claire North

Reviewed by David Harris Trying to sum up this book, and North’s writing, in a discussion with a friend on Twitter recently, I said that she is a remarkable writer, doing extraordinary things. There’s a sense in which case I ought perhaps to stop there because I find that – like many of the books…

Vocations by Gerald O’Donovan

Reviewed by Julie Barham This Irish novel, originally published in 1921, reprinted by Handheld Press, is a tremendously engaging read. Dealing with the fates of two girls in Catholic Ireland, it is a searing picture of the way that the established church worked in small communities dominated by priests and the local convent. Moreover, it…

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin I can’t remember seeing a more perfect cover for a book in a while. Everything you need to know about The Water Cure is there. The obscure water hiding all manner of unknowable things. The girl vulnerable, head lifted, neck exposed. The fleshiness, with the female body at the centre of everything. The…

The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers

Translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo Reviewed by Gill Davies The Seventh Cross is set in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and was first published in German in 1942. Seghers was a Communist, of Jewish descent, and escaped to Mexico with her husband and children in 1940. The novel was published there, and in the United…

The Sing of the Shore by Lucy Wood

Reviewed by Helen Parry I have been a fan of Lucy Wood’s writing since reading her début collection of short stories, Diving Belles, and so I was thrilled to see that she was publishing a new book. The Sing of the Shore, like Diving Belles, is a collection of stories all rooted very firmly in…

A Dead Rose by Aurora Cáceres

Translation, Foreword & Notes by Laura Kanost Reviewed by Karen Langley The female form is often idealised in art and media, from classical sculptures through paintings and in more modern times with fashion photography and the general objectification of women. It takes a brave woman to take on those stereotypes and play with them, which…

House of Beauty by Melba Escobar de Nogales

Translated by Elizabeth Bryer Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies Each time I walk into town from my house I pass at least one nail/beauty salon/spa/bar/studio (the titles variously inflect the appeal). Spread around the town are up to a dozen. Such places are not for elderly geezers, but I do occasionally reflect on the roaring…

The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by David Hebblethwaite Open Kirsty Logan’s debut collection, and you’ll be met first with the title story, which broadly sets the tone for what is to come. The Rental Heart takes us to a version…

Blood on the Tracks: Railway Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards

Reviewed by Karen Langley Golden Age crime, which has had such a revival recently, is renowned for particular tropes and settings; the country house location or the locked room mystery are often featured, but another very popular backdrop is trains. So many famous mysteries are set on trains, Murder on the Orient Express being the…

White Houses by Amy Bloom

Reviewed by Susan Osborne I’ve yet to read anything by Amy Bloom that I’ve not loved. Her writing is both deft and empathetic, pressing all my literary buttons. Spanning a weekend in April 1945, shortly after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, White Houses tells the story of his wife Eleanor and Lorena Hickok, 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…

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…