Europe: A Natural History by Tim Flannery

Reviewed by Peter Reason A natural history, Tim Flannery tells us, encompasses both the natural and the human worlds. This book attends to three big questions: How was Europe formed? How was its extraordinary history discovered? And why did Europe become so important in the world? Flannery – palaeontologist, explorer, conservationist with a wider range…

The Photographer at Sixteen by George Szirtes

Reviewed by Rob Spence This remarkably compelling memoir is, surprisingly, the first prose publication of George Szirtes, one of our most distinguished poets. At its centre is the disquieting life of his mother, Magda, and its culmination in an ambulance accident following a suicide attempt at the age of fifty-one in 1975. Szirtes, in a…

The Real Enid Blyton by Nadia Cohen

Reviewed by Elaine Simpson-Long When I was a little girl I used to receive the latest Famous Five book by Enid Blyton every Christmas. I am pretty sure my mum bought these as it guaranteed that I would be nice and quiet for a few hours in the afternoon as I sat and read it…

The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa

Translated by Sam Garrett Reviewed by Alice Farrant Two venturesome women on a journey through the land of their fathers and mothers. A wrong turn. A bad decision.[1] The Death of Murat Idrissi is a tale of the migrant dilemma; the desperate measures someone will go to escape, but also the struggle to belong. In…

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Reviewed by Alice Farrant Helen Franklin is self-repressed, restricting herself from all that is pleasurable or happy. She merely exists alongside Prague, parallel to its beauty. When suddenly, she is given a manuscript of accounts all linked to a spectre named Melmoth, she is forced to look back to the events that built her self-imposed…

Things We Nearly Knew by Jim Powell (pbk)

Reviewed by Susan Osborne Jim Powell’s Things We Nearly Knew is a slice of American smalltown life seen through the eyes of an unnamed bartender. I enjoyed Powell’s second novel, Trading Futures, a couple of years back, admiring its narrator’s waspishly funny inner monologue. His new novel is infused with a gentler humour, the themes…

Dark Water by Elizabeth Lowry

Reviewed by Anne Goodwin Twenty-one-year-old Hiram Carver, assistant surgeon on the USS Orbis in 1833, senses something special about William Borden when he first sees him on board. The sailor exudes a quiet dignity that his upper-class superior officers seem to lack. So when he hears the story of Borden’s heroism in saving the lives…

The Adventures of Owen Hatherley in the Post-Soviet Space by Owen Hatherley

Reviewed by Karen Langley Author Owen Hatherley has carved out a niche for himself as one of the UK’s foremost commentators on matters architectural and political; his work exists at the point where these intersect with aesthetics; and his latest chunky tome, a fascinating volume from Repeater Books, tackles all three in a work that…

Berta Isla by Javier Marías

Translated by Margaret Jull Costa Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth I’m not one for classic spy stories: I don’t care if the martinis come shaken or stirred, and as much as I love anything set in the 70s, I gave the much-praised TV adaptation of le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl a miss. But Javier Mariás’s…

The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran

Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies At times crime fiction seems a genre so powerful that it sucks in and revitalises other forms. At others, literary fiction appears to piggyback expediently on the thriller or whodunit to expand its popularity – that is to say, its market. It must be a good few years now since…

Merry Christmas from the Shiny Eds!

Only ten days to go till the big day, and the Shiny editors are taking a Christmas break. We’ll return in the New Year; our next reviews will appear on 15 January. Meanwhile we’d like to wish a very happy Christmas to all our readers – we’re glad to know you’re there, and hopefully appreciating…

The Women’s Atlas by Joni Seager

Reviewed by Liz Dexter On this book there’s a quote from Catherine Mayer, Co-Founder of the Women’s Equality Party: “The most important book that will be published this year” and it’s probably one of the most important books to be published EVERY year. All the information we maybe turn our faces away from, not wanting…

Only To Sleep by Lawrence Osborne

Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies A short walk from my ergonomic study chair is my Chandler bookshelf. It includes some Philip Marlowe fiction not by Chandler: Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, A Celebration, a story anthology put out by Bloomsbury in 1989, and Robert B. Parker’s hypothetical completion job on an abortive Chandler fragment, its working…

Books to Give for Christmas 2018

For booklovers, aside from receiving well-chosen books, there is a real satisfaction in finding the perfect book to give. It’s not always easy though, so, if you’re looking for inspiration – you’ve come to the right place. As we did last year, we asked our Shiny reviewers and friends to tell us which book or…

If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura

Translated by Eric Selland Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Who doesn’t deal with the devil every now and again? Or perhaps a god from your chosen religion, for the more saintly among us? Or just any form of non-supernatural, psychological trading in the privacy of your own mind? At risk of branding myself as the resident…