Goblin by Ever Dundas

Reviewed by Isobel Blackthorn I wonder sometimes if we’ll ever tire of stories set in World War II. From Ian McEwan’s Atonement to Julie Summer’s Jambusters! and everything in between and beyond, the period makes for rich pickings. Ever Dundas’ Goblin is different. The story opens during the Blitz and is centred on a little…

Murder on the Pilgrims Way by Julie Wassmer

Reviewed by Victoria If you are like me and enjoy the format of traditional cosy crime – an atmospheric setting, a great cast of possible suspects, a second body that arrives just at the right moment – then I can warmly recommend the new crime series by Julie Wassmer, (click here for the review of…

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Reviewed by Annabel There is something about stories based upon Russian fairy tales that so appeals. Some authors, as Eowyn Ivey did with her divine debut, The Snow Child, have translated them to another time and place. Arden stays in Medieval Russia for her story which contains many elements of the classic Russian fairy tale…

Belladonna by Daša Drndić

Translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawksworth Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies There can be no quick digest of this book, marketed as a novel though in fact much more, and no doubt of its relevance. In its sweep of concerns one pronounced focal point is what the author calls, via a fictional proxy, ‘pathological patriotism’…

The Devil and Webster by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Reviewed by Harriet I’d never heard of Jean Hanff Korelitz when her 2014 novel, You Should Have Known, landed unsolicited in my mailbox. I read it with huge admiration and enjoyment, and gave it a very positive review in the very first edition of Shiny [here]. Now it’s 2017, and her latest novel, The Devil…

The Valentine House by Emma Henderson

Reviewed by Annabel Here they come. Here they are. Les anglais, the English, les rosbifs. After a rather attention-grabbling opening, in which the ageing Sir Anthony Valentine writes some extremely purple prose about mountains and valleys in his diaries, Henderson’s second novel settles down to tell the story of decades of summer visitors to Valentine’s…

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore

Reviewed by Harriet I wanted to write about people whose voices have not echoed through time and whose struggles and passions have been hidden from history So writes Helen Dunmore in the afterword of this, her latest novel. I’ve always vaguely known about her writings, but I could never remember if I’d actually read any…

How to Be Human by Paula Cocozza

Reviewed by Alice Farrant At 35, Mary is single and living in the house she once shared with her partner. She goes to work only to be berated by her boss and comes home to the judgement of her neighbours. Then suddenly, in the midst of her urban depression a fox appears, and strange love…

Mikhail and Margarita by Julie Lekstrom Himes

Reviewed by Karen Langley In this centenary year of the Russian Revolution, much attention is being focused on Soviet Russia and its culture. One author who exerts an eternal fascination is Mikhail Bulgakov; recognised nowadays for his epic work The Master and Margarita, in Soviet times he was probably more known as a playwright since…

A Separation by Katie Kitamura

Reviewed by Marina Sofia It is easier to tell you what A Separation is not, rather than what it is. It is not a mystery, although a disappearance features quite heavily. It is not a psychological thriller, although we delve deep into the central character’s psychology. It is not a romance, although there is a…

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal (pbk)

Reviewed by Alice Farrant My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal is a powerful story that discusses race, mental illness, and family, through the abandonment of a child. It’s the early 80s, Leon is eight and his baby brother Jake has just been born. As his mother slips into a haze of postnatal depression…

All the Places I’ve Ever Lived by David Gaffney

Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies David Gaffney has earned himself a distinctive reputation as a writer of ‘flash fictions’ – micro-stories, variable in tone and topic but springing from a gonzo imagination – in the collections Sawn-off Tales and More Sawn-off Tales. Anything can happen in 150 words or so. Some of them playfully unpick language.…

Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash (pbk)

Reviewed by Susan Osborne Ron Rash hails from the Appalachians and it’s there that he sets his award-winning novels with their smalltown mountain backdrop similar to Kent Haruf’s Holt, Colorado. He’s also a poet, more evident in this new novel than in previous books I’ve read by him. Above the Waterfall is about Les Clary,…

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin No book could be simultaneously more timely and more timeless than this future classic. The Nix is fun, joyous, exciting and tender; full of both the outrage, anger and giddy momentum of political change and subtle layers of sympathy for the characters at the heart of it. It is inescapably apt…

The Longest Night by Otto de Kat

Reviewed by Gill Davies Otto de Kat is the pseudonym of a Dutch writer (journalist, poet, translator and editor) whose novels are set in Holland and Germany in the period just before and during World War II. Once again I find myself catching up with a writer who I wish I had read before. This…