The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas

Reviewed by David Harris This book is very different from Thomas’s last, Our Tragic Universe. We see events from several viewpoints, mostly members of the rambling Gardener family: Fleur, her lover Pi, Charlie, a botanist with an imaginative sex life, his colleagues Izzy and Nicola, botanist and filmmaker Clem, alcoholic …

The Chimes by Anna Smaill (Man Booker-longlisted)

Reviewed by Eric Karl Anderson I’ve read a couple of fascinating dystopian novels recently: Station Eleven and Not Forgetting the Whale. Both use a dark forecast of the future to say something meaningful about the present in unique ways and not necessarily in a political fashion, as most dystopian fiction tends …

The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster Portmantle is a mysterious artists’ retreat centre on the Turkish island of Heybeliada. Its rules are strict: acceptance is at the recommendation of a sponsor, and entry is via secret password and at gunpoint; once inside, each beleaguered artist takes on a false name and has …

The House in Smyrna by Tatiana Salem Levy

Reviewed by Tony Malone Tatiana Salem Levy was one of the writers featured in Granta’s Best Young Brazilian Novelists list a couple of years back, and her debut novel, The House in Smyrna (translated by Alison Entrekin) will certainly add to the growing reputation of contemporary Brazilian literature. It is …

The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock

Reviewed by Annabel Anyone who has ever been enthralled by reading or seeing the film of The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe’s seminal story of the USA’s quest to break the sound barrier and the early days of NASA and the space programme, will realise that beyond the technological marvels, the …

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Reviewed by Annabel Hats off to Bloomsbury on the lovely design of this wonderful novel. You can’t see here, but there is a cut-out of the watch dial, and all around are cogs, art nouveau flourishes, firework rockets and little spherical fizzing bombs, watched over by an octopus. Open the cover, …

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Reviewed by Harriet Rarely can the publication of a novel have been surrounded by such an uproar and so many misconceptions. Let’s put one of them straight right away — this is not a ‘first draft’ of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s an earlier novel, which Harper Lee described as …

All Sorts of Possible by Rupert Wallis (YA)

Reviewed by Annabel I saw a repeat of a Horizon TV programme all about sinkholes the other month. Geology professor Ian Stewart was in Florida, which is the sinkhole capital of the world. He was exploring the phenomenon and meeting people whose lives had been affected, sometimes tragically, by their …

Tender by Belinda McKeon

Reviewed by Alice Farrant Tender by Belinda McKeon is a literary tour-de-force. A frighteningly addictive tumble down the rabbit hole of obsessive love and friendship in late-90s Ireland. Catherine is 18, fresh from countryside life in her first year at Trinity College, Dublin. After a disastrous first year of social …

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (YA)

Reviewed by Bookgazing For a while now, there’s been some online discussion about whether “the coming out novel” has had its day, and whether modern readers need stories where characters ‘just happen to be gay’. The conversation has been heated: partly because every aspect of LGBTQ representation is so important; …

Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen

Reviewed by Victoria When I first heard that an author had produced a rewrite of Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Enchanted April, I was extremely eager to read it. I love von Armin’s book and anything that adds to the store of global feel-good literature works for me. Once the book …

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle (YA)

Reviewed by Bookgazing Every October, Cara’s family is beset by accidents big and small. The family all refer to this month as ‘the accident season’ and try to take extra care – covering floors in rugs and adding padding to sharp corners. Sadly, none of these preventative measures seems to …

The Looking Glass House by Vanessa Tait

Reviewed by Esther Brazil “Some children have a most disagreeable way of getting grown-up: I hope you won’t do anything of that sort before we meet again.” So wrote Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Dodgson, to one of his many child-friends in April 1868. His creations of Alice …

Colouring In by Angela Huth

Reviewed by Adèle Geras First, full disclosure. Susan Hill, whose Long Barn Books has published this novel, sent me a copy as a gift. She had no idea that I was going to write a review, but sent it because she knew I admired the writer. The mask on the …