Letters From Klara and Other Stories by Tove Jansson

Translated by Thomas Teal Reviewed by Kate Gardner This penultimate collection of Finnish literary giant Jansson’s short stories has taken 26 years to be published in an English translation, but that is a reflection of our literary landscape, not of the quality of the stories. Jansson was in her 70s when she wrote these, and…

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin That the Bechdel Test for movies even exists has to be one of the more depressing minor details of modern times. If you’ve never come across it, it’s a way of evaluating a film’s representation of women using these criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it,…

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Review by David Hebblethwaite Jon McGregor is a writer whose work deserves the fullest attention, which it will repay with some extraordinary reading experiences. He has an unerring ability to cast the everyday in a mysterious new light. Where McGregor’s previous work has often focused on urban environments, Reservoir 13 – his fourth novel –…

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

Reviewed by Annabel Quentin and Lottie want to divorce – but they can’t afford to. Well, can’t afford to sell their big London house and buy two smaller ones that will permit them to carry on their city lives. Lottie comes up with a solution – move to a cheap part of Devon and rent,…

The Accusation by Bandi

Translated by Deborah Smith Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Look at all these people, sobbing over a death that happened three months ago, starving because they haven’t been able to draw their rations all the while. What about the mother of the child bitten by a snake while he was out gathering flowers for Kim Il-sung’s…

The Photographer- Meike Ziervogel 

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton I first heard of Meike Ziervogel in the early days of her publishing house, Peirene Press, when I was offered a book to review. It hooked me in and so I’ve followed what she’s done, first as a publisher, and then as a writer, ever since. The Photographer is her fourth…

Checkpoint by Jean-Christophe Rufin

Translated by Alison Anderson Reviewed by Terence Jagger The first character we meet is Maud, a young and naive Frenchwoman who is apparently badly injured, being driven by Marc through the snow, pursued by forces they clearly fear but of which we know nothing. This prologue, it quickly appears, is not a prelude but a…

Siracusa by Delia Ephron

Reviewed by Marina Sofia Let me start by saying: don’t believe the hype. This book is being marketed as psychological suspense, impossible to put down, a page-turning narrative of a holiday which ends in tragedy… Yet all of this description does the book a disservice, attracting the attentions of the wrong kind of reader. Those…

Addlands by Tom Bullough (pbk)

Reviewed by David Hebblethwaite Tom Bullough grew up on a farm in Radnorshire on the Welsh borders. As an administrative county, Radnorshire is no more, having been officially absorbed into Powys in 1974; but Bullough notes on his website that there’s still a Radnorshire which persists in people’s conception of the area. Addlands, Bullough’s fourth…

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins

Reviewed by Judith Wilson The Night Visitor is Lucy Atkins’ third novel, and as I’d devoured the first two, I was keen to read this. The proof copy arrived emblazoned with emerald dung beetles and with the tantalizing phrase: ‘One secret could ruin her life …’ It’s a great premise for a novel. I’d found…

An English Guide to Birdwatching by Nicholas Royle

Reviewed by Annabel When first offered this book to review – I thought it was finally time to get around to reading one of Nicholas Royle’s novels, I’ve several on the shelves, notably First Novel. Then I opened this book, looked at the flyleaf and that book wasn’t listed. It was only then that I…

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Reviewed by Harriet And if such a gift could come to him at such a time…— he opened his eyes, and yes, there it was, the perfect knowledge: Anything was possible for anyone. Just over a year after the publication of the amazing My Name is Lucy Barton (reviewed here in paperback), Elizabeth Strout has…

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin The first thing to say about The End We Start From is it’s not a standard book of fictional prose. The story is told through beautifully-crafted sentences, isolated like islands on the page. Shots of consciousness, captured like polaroids. Each scene is built from just a handful of these, and there…

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…