Sorry for the Dead by Nicola Upson

Reviewed by Harriet, 27 November 2019 Here at Shiny we are great admirers of Nicola Upson’s books – her most recent novel, Stanley and Elsie, was reviewed here, and we’ve also covered two of her Josephine Tey crime novels here and here.  These were numbers six and seven in this on-going series, and now we…

The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North

Review by David Harris, 26 November 2019 A new book by Claire North is always a very special event in my reading calendar, and William Abbey didn’t disappoint. In something of the same vein as the Flying Dutchman, this is a tale of a man cursed after an act of selfishness. William Abbey is a mediocre doctor in…

Blackberry & Wild Rose by Sonia Velton (pbk)

Review by Helen Skinner, 26 November 2019 It’s 1768 and Sara Kemp has just arrived in Spitalfields, the London parish which has become home to a thriving community of Huguenot silk weavers. Sara is full of hope and optimism, ready to start a new life, but before she’s had time to get her bearings she…

Lake Like a Mirror by Ho Sok Fong

Translated by Natascha Bruce Review by David Hebblethwaite, 21 November 2019 Ho Sok Fong is a Malaysian writer whose short stories have won a number of awards. Lake Like a Mirror is her second collection, originally published in Chinese in 2014. The women at the heart of these nine stories are not in full control…

The Measure of a Man by Marco Malvaldi

Translated by Howard Curtis and Katherine Gregor Review by Terence Jagger, 21 Nov 2019 I was intrigued to see this novel on my doormat: Malvaldi is better known (to me at least) as a writer of crime stories, and I read his Three-Card Monte with pleasure (my Shiny review is here). But that is light,…

Your Duck is My Duck by Deborah Eisenberg

Review by Terence Jagger, 14 November 2019 This, in spite of its slightly silly sounding title, is an interesting and slightly mysterious collection of six short stories. They are all very different, but share a common characteristic, that the author lets the reader into the narrative secrets only gradually, and then not completely.  Some of…

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver (pbk)

Review by Annabel, 12 November 2019 I read and really enjoyed Paver’s first two adult novels, both ghost stories. The first, Dark Matter was located in the Arctic, which was followed by Thin Air set in the Himalayas, and both were also set in the mid 1930s. Given their similar nature, I preferred Thin Air, which I had read first, particularly…

Akin by Emma Donoghue

Review by Harriet, 7 November 2019 Back in 2010 I read Emma Donoghue’s best selling, prize winning Room. I admired it but I can’t say I enjoyed it. Not only because the story itself, which deals with the experiences of Jack, a five-year-old boy who has lived his entire life trapped, by his rapist father,…

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Review by Liz Dexter, 5 November 2019 Amma is a playwright and director who’s moved from the fringes to the mainstream (or has it moved to her?). Yazz is a millennial student, sure of herself and never wrong, who categorises her godparents according to what accompanies their birthday cards. Dominique made a mistake and ended…

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Review by Harriet, 31 October 2019 I’ve reviewed two of Elizabeth Strout’s novels on Shiny here and here and both were brilliant. But possibly my favourite up to now has been her 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, which, in a series of interlinked short stories, introduces the eponymous Olive, a middle-aged schoolteacher living in the…

Find Me by André Aciman

Review by Anna Hollingsworth, 31 October 2019 There are two kinds of novels to which I don’t want to see a sequel. There are, of course, the literary nightmares that I pray I won’t have to revisit and that shouldn’t have come into existence in the first place. Then there are the very special books…

Inheritance by Jenny Eclair

Review by Laura Marriott, 15 October 2019 From previous reviews (Moving, Listening In) it is no surprise that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new Jenny Eclair novel Inheritance. However, this causes one both excitement and some trepidation. What if this one is a disappointment? What if the author has gone off…

Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

Review by Gill Davies, 10 October 2019 This powerful and engrossing novel continues a series of crime novels in which Attica Locke uses plot and suspense to investigate inequality and American racism in the late 20th and 21st centuries. Previous novels examined the lives and history of black Americans as they struggled to establish communities…

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Review by Harriet, 8 October 2019 Ann Patchett believes in goodness, arguably a most unfashionable belief in today’s world. In the bookstore she runs, there’s a sign: ‘What good shall I do this day?’ In an Guardian interview [here] in 2016 she was quoted as saying ‘I have been shown so much kindness in my…

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris

Review by Basil Ransome-Davies, 3 October 2019 In his indispensable primer What Is History? E. H. Carr underlines the point that ‘History’ has a double meaning: both the events, or facts, of the past, and the record of those events (‘Prehistory’ describes the time before written records were kept). Facts are facts. Writing is a…

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Reviewed by Ali Hope, 1 October 2019 Although I have pre-ordered new releases a few times before it’s not something I do very often – and never have I felt swept along by the hype of new book like I was this one. If I am honest, I had never thought that The Handmaid’s Tale needed…

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy

Review by Annabel, 24 September 2019 Levy came to the forefront of our attention when her 2011 novel Swimming Home was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, something she’d repeat with her 2016 offering Hot Milk (reviewed here). Neither went on to win the prize, but her reputation as a writer of slim, poetic and…

The Confession by Jessie Burton

Review by Anna Hollingsworth, 19 Sept 2019 Capturing an era with impeccable accuracy is a challenge that anyone writing about the past must face; there will always be that critic who enjoys combing through a novel for the most minor historical slips. Jessie Burton, however, is clearly not afraid of tackling the historical. Her debut,…

Machines in the Head: Selected Short Writing by Anna Kavan

Review by Karen Langley, 12 Sept 2019 There was quite a resurgence of interest in Anna Kavan’s writing last year with the release of not one, but three, different editions of her classic dystopian novel Ice (which I covered in detail for Shiny New Books). Kavan published over several decades, though the majority of her…

Devotion by Madeline Stevens

Review by Harriet, 10 Sept 2019 ‘A dangerous novel – sharp, glittering and sexy’: so says the quotation on the cover of Madeline Stevens’ debut novel. I’m not sure that I would have described it like this, but I did find it immensely readable. Knowing from the blurb that this was the story of a…

Sanctuary by Luca D’Andrea

Translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis and Katherine Gregor Review by Basil Ransome-Davies, 5 September 2019 Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ‘em/And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum. Organised crime is an institution, and like almost all major institutions   – banks, for example – it is…

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Review by Annabel, 3 September 2019 Those who’ve visited Shiny New Books before may know of my passion for the novels of Becky Chambers, one of the most distinctive new voices in Science Fiction. In her ‘Wayfarers’ series, she has created a unique milieu, which shows a broadly optimistic view of the future. Humankind has…

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (pbk.)

Review by Jane Carter, 29 August 2019 I fell in love with Diane Setterfield’s first book, I was disappointed by her second; but when I saw the title of this third novel I thought that everything would be alright and as soon as I started to read I was quite certain that it would. Imagine…

Belfast Stories, edited by Paul McVeigh & Lisa Frank

Review by Laura Marriott, 27 August 2019 In Donegall Square, in the centre of Belfast, Lisa is working in the Welcome Centre. Tourists flock in searching for Game of Thrones sites and she spends her days dolling out information about the city and giving tours to VIPs. In a job that involves greeting visitors to…

Flames by Robbie Arnott (pbk)

Review by Susan Osborne, 22 August 2019 Tasmanian writer Robbie Arnott’s Flames is not an easy book to write about. It’s quite some way out of my usual literary territory, steeped as it is in fantasy and folklore. Arnott’s debut begins with the reappearance of Edith McAllister, two days dead. The McAllister women have a…