Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

Reviewed by Laura Tisdall Having read every novel that Sarah Moss has written (plus most of her non-fiction) I was eagerly anticipating Ghost Wall. It didn’t disappoint, although its brevity made it feel a little less substantial than previous stand-outs like The Tidal Zone and Bodies of Light.  Set in the 1990s at a recreated Iron…

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Reviewed by Alice Farrant The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker is the retelling of The Iliad from the perspective of Briseis (Brih-SAY-iss), once Queen of Lyrnessus and then slave and concubine to Achilles. From my understanding of The Iliad (I should admit now that I’ve not read it) and Wikipedia, Briseis falls in…

The Hazards Of Good Fortune by Seth Greenland

Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies The title of Seth Greenland’s book harks back to William Dean Howells’ 1889 New York novel of business and politics A Hazard of New Fortunes. The fortune of Greenland’s title harnesses both its meanings in a classically American equation, both luck and riches. Jay Goldstone, the novel’s lead character, was born…

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Reviewed by Alice Farrant There are books you enjoy and then there are the books that consume you. Authors whose work brands you, generating literary musing that lasts well beyond the final pages of their novels. Donna Tartt, Ford Madox Ford, Richard Yates, Sarah Moss, Elena Ferrante… Ottessa Moshfegh has joined the ranks of literature…

Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale

Reviewed by Annabel I took this novel on holiday to Somerset with me. We were renting a barn in one of the villages next door to Weston-Super-Mare, where Eustace, the protagonist of Patrick Gale’s new novel grows up. However, we only went into WSM the once: the tide was way out, exposing the estuarine mud…

I Only Killed Him Once by Adam Christopher

Reviewed by David Harris This is the final outing, as far as I’m aware (though it would be nice to have more), for Ray Electromatic, Adam Christopher’s wise-cracking, Chandleresque robot detective and hitman. Ray’s investigations (and assignments) are made more difficult by the fact that his memory tape only lasts for 24 hours. After that…

The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman

Reviewed by Julie Barham This is the debut novel written by Tracy Borman, who is a popular historian and Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. The research is therefore impeccable, the feeling for the age is genuine and ought to be experienced, and the writing is extremely engaging. As a first published foray into fiction, this…

The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser (pbk)

Reviewed by Kim Forrester There’s something about Michelle de Kretser’s silky prose combined with her superbly drawn characters and her forensic eye for detail that makes The Life to Come  —the Australian writer’s first novel since winning the Miles Franklin Literary Award with Questions of Travel in 2013 — truly sing. Throw in fierce intelligence and sparkling wit…

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

Reviewed by Annabel Becky Chambers’ third novel is set in the same galactic milieu as her first two. It can be read as a standalone and marks her out as a shining star in the latest generation of space opera writers. In her marvellous debut, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, we travelled…

The Town by Shaun Prescott

Reviewed by Harriet This is how things are going to be from now on. This is how they’re going to stay. History can end, you know. It doesn’t have to keep going. In this strange, bewitching novel, a young writer comes to live in a New South Wales town. He has a project – he’s…

Learning to Die by Thomas Maloney

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Three decades of life promise a quarter-life crisis: your 20s are on their way into your 30s, you’re forced to reflect and look back, and, too often, to ignore what you have done and instead panic over all the things you haven’t. The characters in Thomas Maloney’s Learning to Die embody…

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

Reviewed by Annabel The first thing you need to do with this sparkling debut novel is to suspend your disbelief. Just accept that time travel was invented by a quartet of four women in 1967 and run with it. That done, you can sit back and enjoy this complex story which incorporates a clever murder…

Johannesburg by Fiona Melrose (pbk)

Reviewed by Eleanor Franzén There seem to be a lot of rewrites out these days; many of them are about myth and legend, like Kamila Shamsie’s Women’s Prize-winning Home Fire, but some are reworkings of more recent literature. Fiona Melrose’s second novel, Johannesburg, isn’t precisely a rewrite, but it takes many of its cues from Virginia…

The Idiot by Elif Batuman (pbk)

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth In his The Idiot – the original – Dostoevsky set out on a mission to depict “the positively good and beautiful man.” The namesake, Prince Myshkin, has a goodness and open-hearted simplicity to him that others take as an absence of intellect and insight; and it makes him the perfect guinea…

Release by Patrick Ness (YA, pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel These days, I read fewer YA and children’s books, but Patrick Ness is one of those authors I will always look out for. His YA novels, and this one verges onto adult territory anyway, make true crossover reads that adults will enjoy too. Only the fact that I’d never read Mrs Dalloway blinded me…

Vernon Subutex 2 by Virginie Despentes

Translated by Frank Wynne Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies Almost two decades ago I saw a French movie called Baise-moi. It contained, besides much simulated violence, what Wikipedia fastidiously calls ‘several unsimulated sex scenes’. Yes, actual fucking and sucking, the two principals being played, necessarily, by porn actresses. Filth at the arthouse? Sort of, along with…

The Aviator by Eugene Vodolazkin

Translated by Lisa Hayden Reviewed by Karen Langley You awake in a hospital bed. You have no memory of who you are or how you came to be there, apart from a name – Innokenty Petrovich Platonov. Gradually your memory begins to come back in random fragments here and there so that you (and the…

Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk

Reviewed by Rob Spence I began reading this book just as the outcry over the Trump regime’s treatment of migrants was gathering pace. It seemed an appropriate time to enter Chuck Palahniuk’s dystopian vision of a very-near future in which a bunch of young misfits engineer – almost by accident – a bloody coup in…

Disoriental by Négar Djavadi

Translated by Tina Kover Reviewed by Marina Sofia With a blurb promising a story of growing up in exile and even the title cleverly playing on words ‘disoriented’ and a sense of ‘disassociating’ oneself from ‘oriental’, this was always going to be a book that appealed to me. However, even if you are not as…

Retribution Road by Antonin Varenne (pbk)

Translated by Sam Taylor Reviewed by Gill Davies Having become rather jaded with the predictability of the crime fiction genre and wearied by the sheer number published, I’ve been interested to explore non-British novels. Then I found that Retribution Road is a historical novel with a British focus and wondered if I would be disappointed.…