Book review, Readathon

Sula by Toni Morrison


Format: Ebook (Kindle)

Length: 105 pages

Genre: Fiction, Classic

Publisher: Vintage

Date of Publication: 24th July, 2007 (First published in 1973)

Rating: 4/5 stars

One of my book resolution this year is to read more of classic literature. So when I came across Binders Book Club reading Sula this month, I jumped on board. This was going to be the first time that I was reading the author and hearing how descriptive her books could be, I was glad that we picked a relatively short read for our first experience.

The Blurb

Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. In this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison tells the story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Their devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret. It endures even after Nel has grown up to be a pillar of the black community and Sula has become a pariah. But their friendship ends in an unforgivable betrayal—or does it end? Terrifying, comic, ribald and tragic, Sula is a work that overflows with life.

The Book

Sula is a book that talks about the evolution of African American culture just at the cusp of abolition of the slave trade. It documents their struggles along with the rich heritage and the humor that’s embedded in their life. All of this is done through the lives of two girls- Nel and Sula who are as different from each other as chalk and cheese while also being quite similar in the way that they see the world. The book is very descriptive which made the beginning a bit arduous for me. It is divided into two parts, first describes the girls’ childhoods and second shows them as adults. I preferred Part 1 over Part 2 but that is only because of my personal preference of action over description and dialogues over monologues.

I loved how the author conveyed Sula’s indecisiveness along with her strong love for herself. She is a woman who believes in not doing something just to please others. Unfortunately for her, this is a bit too ahead of her times and she is shunned by the entire town. What I appreciated about the character is that she remained steadfast in her belief and did what she thought best until her last breath. I was awed at how the author managed to incorporate this sort of character with her best friend who is more rigid and mild in her approach. We are never made to pick one girl over the other. It was wonderful to see the development of the African American community while also reading a background story of friendship and loss that seemed to tie everything together.

It is a beautiful story of growing up in households where you feel like you don’t belong, of living in a society that places stringent rules on how you are supposed to behave and casts you out if you don’t follow its rules, of young girls realizing that life is not always about doing what feels good to you and also of discovering that you cannot please everybody. They learn to deal with men and women of differing temperaments, childhood trauma, and dark secrets. What I absolutely loved was how the author managed to create a piece of work with no judgement in it. Women with multiple partners are just described as they are. Seeing as this was written in the 1970s, it is commendable that the author felt no need to direct her readers’ moral compasses. She lets us see all points of view and make our own decision.

The Author

Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford) was an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”

Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best known are her novels The Bluest Eye Song of Solomon , and Beloved , which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. In 2001 she was named one of “The 30 Most Powerful Women in America” by Ladies’ Home Journal.

TL;DR: A descriptive book that is steeped with African American culture

What are some of your favourite classics?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Readathon

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


Format: Hardcover

Length: 323 pages

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction

Publisher: Riverhead Books (Penguin Random House)

Date of Publication: 13th January, 2015

Rating: 3/5 stars

I love reading thrillers so when I received this book from Samvedna for my birthday, I was stoked! Every October I read books that are spooky so I put this book into my October TBR and couldn’t wait to get started.

The Blurb

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train.

The Book

I had high expectations for the book and it began reasonably well. The descriptions of Rachel as a functioning alcoholic was realistic enough that you start to be afraid for her. You begin to wonder what her memory loss will do to her and hope that her relationships with people that are important to her can survive the phase that she is in.

However, after about 10% of the book is read, it begins to get monotonous. Nothing much happens except the author going back and forth between Rachel and Megan. While some parts of the timeline are linear, some parts of it are jumping across a couple of years. This does not take away from the continuity of the story but you are left wondering if all that was said could have been said about 50 pages earlier.

As was with the beginning, the last 10% of the book picks up its pace again. Although you have already predicted the twist, the author still manages to take you along for the ride and you are left wondering why this crisp pace was not maintained throughout the book. This could potentially be a book that is read while relaxing on a holiday at the beach where you don’t expect too much from the story and just need an easy read.

The Author

Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in London. The Girl on the Train was her first work of fiction. It was made into a major motion picture.

Her work include:

  1. The Girl on the Train (2015)
  2. Into the Water (2017)

TL;DR: A slow paced book that is quite predictable that could be a good vacation read

What’s your favourite thriller?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Readathon, Wrap-up

PanMacIndiaYAReadathon- Wrap-up


Duration: 10-12-2019 to 10-01-2020

Dates read: 11-12-2019 to 31-12-2019

Number of books read: 4

Highest rating: 5/5 stars

Lowest rating: 3/5 stars

I love taking part in readathons. They are a fun way to challenge yourself and you usually end up meeting like-minded people. The Young Adult genre is one of my favorites to read so when Pan Macmillan India announced a one month long YA readathon, I knew I had to participate in it.

It was an added advantage that I had just been sent a review copy by the publishing house so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to start.

Book 1: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

First in the readathon was Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, a 3 star read for me. I read it in preparation for the review copy of A Children of Virtue and Vengeance. I expected the series to captivate me but it felt like the author fell into the YA-romance-loophole rather than concentrating on the magic and the rich culture that she began with. 

Book 2: Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

The second book of the Legend of Orisha series was slightly better than the first since we see more action here. It was still just a 3.5 star read.

Book 3: Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

I was waiting for the release of Wayward Son ever since I fell in love with Baz in Carry On during Pride Readathon. I think I may have been a bit disillusioned or perhaps my expectations were a tad too high because it was a 4 star read.

Book 4: Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

Next was an unexpected 5 star read with Deeplight. A worthy last read of 2019 that I received in my @tbb_box Secret Santa package. I loved how inclusive it was of people with disabilities.

The readathon experience was a fun way to end my 2019 bookstagram journey and I also discovered two new authors, one of whom I now love!

TL;DR: A fun readathon with books ranging from 3 to 5 stars

Have you participated in any readathons?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Readathon

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge


Format: Paperback

Length: 434 pages

Genre: Sci-fi, Fantasy, Fiction

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Publishers

Date of Publication: 29th October, 2019

Rating: 5/5 stars

This year I took part in four separate Secret Santa gift swaps. I received Deeplight in the Secret Santa organised by The Big Book Box. It was such a pretty cover that I fell in love with the book even before I began reading it. I read it as a part of the PanMacIndiaYAReadathon hosted by Pan Macmillan India and it was brilliant!

The Blurb

On the jumbled streets of the island of Lady’s Crave live Hark and his best friend Jelt. They are scavengers: living off their wits, diving for relics of the gods, desperate for anything they can sell.

But now there is something restless stirring beneath the waves, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it. Something valuable.

Something dangerous…

The Book

This was to be my last book of 2019 and I wanted it to be something special. It was warm and cozy while being thrilling and mysterious. The perfect holiday read for that end-of-the-year feeling.

I love inclusivity in books and movies. However, of late I’ve noticed that authors add gay characters or people of color just to cater to the audience even if the story does not warrant it. But with Deeplight, people with disability were an integral part of the story. Their loss of hearing was seen as a badge of honor. They had developed an exclusive community that celebrates their difference rather than hides it much like the deaf community in our world where being deaf is not considered a disability.

The book talks of friendship and growth in relationships in a very healthy manner. I was glad to see that it addressed co-dependence in relationships and of the pressure to please someone else in a friendship at the cost of your self-confidence. It talks of the necessity to walk away from unhealthy relationships and manipulative behaviour. It was very real in descriptions of PTSD and childhood trauma. Of all the books that are touted as being good advocates for mental health, I think this one came very close to being relatable even though it was fantasy.

The ‘thriller’ part of the story felt a bit too long and predictable towards the end. But given the fact that there were quite a lot of loose ends to tie up, I think that the author did a brilliant job of not creating a ‘cliff hanger’ ending just to earn a sequel to it as we see in new books nowadays.

The Author

Frances Hardinge spent her childhood in a huge, isolated old house in a small, strange village, and the two things inspired her to write strange, magical stories from an early age. She studied English at Oxford University and now lives in Oxford, England.

Her work include:

  1. Fly by Night (2005)
  2. Well Witched (2007)
  3. The Lost Conspiracy (2008)
  4. Fly Trap (2010)
  5. Cuckoo Song (2014)
  6. A Face Like Glass (2012)
  7. The Lie Tree (2015)
  8. A Skinful of Shadows (2017)
  9. Deeplight (2019)

TL;DR: A brilliant story that is filled with mystery and beautiful world building and is also inclusive of disabilities.

Did you receive any books for Christmas?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Readathon

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell


Format: eBook (Kindle)

Length: 356 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction, LGBT

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Date of Publication: 24th September, 2019

Rating: 4/5 stars

I loved reading the first book of the Simon Snow series- Carry On. I read it for the Pride Readathon this year and fell in love with the characters. When I heard that the author was coming up with the second part, I couldn’t wait to read it. I timed it to coincide with PanMacIndiaYAReadathon hosted by Pan Macmillan India and it was perfect!

The Blurb

The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

The Book

What makes some books that use cliches predictable and annoying while others that use them, brilliant? Is it the author’s prowess or is it the reader’s state of mind? I had just completed reading a YA fantasy book that had used everything that is supposed to make a YA book successful and I did not like it at all. But when I began reading Wayward Son, I knew that it had started as a Harry Potter fan-fiction and that it will be peppered with references and innuendos. Maybe this prepared me for it or the author was so exceptionally good but whatever the reason, I enjoyed every bit of the story. I finished reading the entire book in two days flat!

The book begins where the first book left off. Simon, Baz, Penny, and Agatha are now at University and trying to put all of the past behind them. While Penny and Baz have dived into schoolwork to try and forget everything that happened, Simon and Agatha have not been so lucky. Simon has become depressed and refuses to talk or get off the couch while Agatha left everything behind including her wand and enrolled in an American University for a clean start.

But we find that you can take the magicians out of magic but you cannot take the magic out of magicians. While Penny plans a road-trip to get everyone out of the funk that they are in, they discover that they have unresolved issues to work on while saving the world, yet again, from magical hybrids that threaten the very nature of magical existence. What is brilliant is that the author admits to this being an ongoing theme in the books and that makes it hilarious rather than boring.

I loved how the author describes the PTSD that each character suffers from. They each deal with it in their own way and the book does not preach about there being a ‘right way’ to do it. The author gives each character the space that they need to grow and stays true to what we have come to expect from them. The only thing that I wish was explained better were the rules of the magic world when it came to things like stealing, forgery and magicking up money. I also wish that there had been more explanation about the nature of various creatures that we were introduced to. But I understand that it was beyond the scope of just two books in a series and I hope that in the next books the author continues to cement the creatures that are introduced rather than inventing more fantastical creatures just for the gang to fight.

The Author

I’ve spoken about Rainbow Rowell in my review of the first book of the series- Carry On.

TL;R: A fast paced book with enough cliches to actually make them fun to read

What books have you been waiting to read from a long time?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Readathon, Received for Review

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi


Format: Paperback

Length: 416 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Date of Publication: 3rd December, 2019

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

I received a copy of the book from the publisher and began reading it immediately after I finished the first book in the series- Children of Blood and Bone. It was also my second book for the PanMacIndiaYAReadathon by Pan Macmillan India.

The Blurb

“After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.

Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari’s right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy’s wrath.

With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.

The Book

I began reading the book immediately after I finished the first book and I had all the details fresh in my mind. I was glad that the author developed each concept that was mentioned in the first book and cemented the rules of the world of Maji before introducing us to the new ways of acquiring magic.

The book begins where the first book ends. Magic has returned to the world but it has brought with it an entirely unexpected side to it. Not only the Maji but also the Nobles have some form of magic and everyone is unhappy about it- the Maji feel betrayed by the Gods while the Nobles want to squash the Maji using that very magic against them. In the midst of all of this, we have our main characters growing up and having to deal with emotions that they are not familiar with.

The plot twists were a bit predictable in this book as they were in the first book. However, I was pleased to find that the pace was much quicker than it was in its predecessor. We have Zel and Inan trying to figure out what they feel towards each other, we have Amari and Tzain assuming that things were safe and secure. We have an introduction of new relationships with cousins and mercenaries where you want to scream that they seem to have ulterior motives that our naive characters don’t seem to notice. I expected Roen to be my favorite character and I wasn’t disappointed. I wish we had seen more interaction between him and Zelie.

The growth of the characters of Amari and Inan was a pleasure to read. It was realistic in a way of ‘two steps forward, one step back’. Dealing with PTSD and propaganda that one has grown up with is never an easy process. I expected the betrayals that happened but I did not expect the reasons behind it. The descriptions of the Maji powers as well as the process of them working to strengthen it were my favorite things to read. I was glad to see that the author concentrated on action in this book and not just descriptions of estranged love and confused teenagers.

The Author

I’ve spoken about Tomi Adeyemi in my review of her debut novel- Children of Blood and Bone.

TL;DR: A fast paced sequel that again ends in a cliff hanger

What’s your favourite book with a cliff hanger ending?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Readathon, Regional Language books

No Presents Please by Jayanth Kaikini


Format: Paperback

Length: 240 pages

Genre: Short Stories

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Date of Publication: 25th November, 2017

Rating: 3/5 stars

This year, the BookDivas decided to have more buddy reading and readalongs so even before it was 2019, all of us received this book through a secret santa. It was later revealed that the sender was Chitra and we had a wonderful time trying to read this on schedule. The book had an added advantage for me because I have a reading goal this year of reading at least one book in Kannada a month. January was extremely busy and I did not have enough time to curate a book and I considered No Presents Please as a Kannada book since it is a translation.

The book recently won the DSC prize and I was glad that Chitra sent the books to us. I would definitely not have gotten to reading it myself. Unfortunately I just got around to posting a review

The Blurb

Jayant Kaikini’s compassionate gaze takes in the people in the corners of the city, the young woman yearning for love, the certified virgin who must be married off again, the older woman and her medicines; Tejaswini Niranjana’s translations bring the rhythms of Kannada into English with admirable efficiency. This is a Bombay book, a Mumbai book, a Momoi book, a Mhamai book, and it is not to be missed. – Jerry Pinto No Presents Please: Mumbai Stories is not about what Mumbai is, but what it enables. Here is a city where two young people decide to elope and then start nursing dreams of different futures, where film posters start talking to each other, where epiphanies are found in keychains and thermos-flasks. From Irani cafes to chawls, old cinema houses to reform homes, Jayant Kaikini seeks out and illuminates moments of existential anxiety and of tenderness. In these sixteen stories, cracks in the curtains of the ordinary open up to possibilities that might not have existed, but for this city where the surreal meets the everyday.”

The Book

The book is a collection of short stories that talk about everyday life in Bombay, before it became Mumbai. While most of the stories are open ended and let the readers interpret it at their will, they are down to earth and talk of everyday people going about their everyday lives. I personally don’t enjoy open ended stories. I like my reads to have a definite conclusion, blame it on my need to find closure. I think this is a book that will be truly enjoyed by people who have lived the Bombay life, maybe not so much by others

The Author

Kaikini was born in Gokarna and moved to Mumbai where he worked as a chemist for many years. He now lives in Bangalore with his wife and children. He is regarded as one of the most significant of the younger writers in Kannada today. He is a writer of short stories, film scripts and poetry.
His poetry is characterised by subtle imagism, a minute documentation of the seemingly commonplace, a colloquial idiom and a conscientious refusal to engage in any poeticising.

Kaikini received the Karnataka Sahitya Academy award for his first poetry collection at the age of nineteen in 1974. He received the same award again in 1982, 1989 and 1996 for his short story collections. He has been awarded the Dinakara Desai award for his poetry, the B. H. Sridhar award for fiction, as well as the Katha National award and Rujuwathu trust fellowship for his creative writing.

TL;DR: Although it is a book of short stories, it is not a quick read since each story makes you stop and think of what the author is trying to convey in his subtle writing style.

Do you like subtle imagism?

Have you read any such book?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Readathon

The Institute by Stephen King


Format: Hardcover

Length: 485 pages

Genre: Thriller, Fiction, Sci-fi

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (Hachette India)

Date of Publication: 30th September, 2019

Rating: 5/5 stars

I am a big time Stephen King fan. I read and collected his work ever since I was in high school so when I heard that he was publishing a new book just in time for Halloween, I knew I had to read it this month. As always, the King does not disappoint.

It was also perfect for the Books N’ Beyond readathon prompt- a spooky book as well as Askreads Octspookathon prompt- a recent book released in 2019.

The Blurb

Deep in the woods of Maine, there is a dark state facility where kids, abducted from across the United States, are incarcerated. In the Institute they are subjected to a series of tests and procedures meant to combine their exceptional gifts – telepathy, telekinesis – for concentrated effect.

Luke Ellis is the latest recruit. He’s just a regular 12-year-old, except he’s not just smart, he’s super-smart. And he has another gift which the Institute wants to use…

Far away in a small town in South Carolina, former cop Tim Jamieson has taken a job working for the local Sherrif. He’s basically just walking the beat. But he’s about to take on the biggest case of his career.

Back in the Institute’s downtrodden playground and corridors where posters advertise ‘just another day in paradise’, Luke, his friend Kalisha and the other kids are in no doubt that they are prisoners, not guests. And there is no hope of escape.

But great events can turn on small hinges and Luke is about to team up with a new, even younger recruit, Avery Dixon, whose ability to read minds is off the scale. While the Institute may want to harness their powers for covert ends, the combined intelligence of Luke and Avery is beyond anything that even those who run the experiments – even the infamous Mrs Sigsby – suspect.

Thrilling, suspenseful, heartbreaking, The Institute is a stunning novel of childhood betrayed and hope regained.

The Book

As is the staple of Stephen King’s work, he begins his story with a seemingly minor character till you thinking that you know where the story is going. But as every King fan knows, the pace and story in the next chapter are going to change dramatically and you will be introduced to a multitude of new characters, each more complex than the other. While this book stays clear of the horror genre, it has enough hair raising supernatural and sci-fi scares that will keep you up all night reading with all the lights turned on.

Whenever there are children that are captured and tortured, you know that the story is going to be dark. But with The Institute, King taps into the fear primal fear of every parent- their child who they thought was safe in their own house, is no longer so. The experiments at the Institute borrowed a lot from the Nazi experiments by Josef Mengele, just like the kids point out. But the fact that they can exist in the era of the internet, where we thought nothing could be kept a secret for long is what is truly scary. While you don’t discover the purpose of the torments that the children undergo until much later in the book, all you want to do is burst the door open and rescue them all.

Luke is a delight to read. He is funny, respectful and smart in more ways than one. I was glad that the genius child was not portrayed as the typical mal-adjusted introvert that most stories do. He is aware of being typecast and makes every effort to improve his social skills as well as his mental capacities. He makes friends and is capable of caring for them. While you are in the middle of the book and know for certain that the main character must go on for a few more hundreds of pages, you are still at the edge of your seat hoping against hope that nothing happens to him. That is the beauty of a master story-teller that King is.

TL;DR: A brilliant and fast paced story that scares you and makes you care, typical of Stephen King’s work

What author’s work have you been following for a while?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Readathon

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff


Format: eBook

Length: 419 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (PanMacmillan)

Date of Publication: 5th September, 2017

Rating: 4/5 stars

I read Nevernight, the first book of the series last year and wasn’t a huge fan. But when there was a readalong announced on Bookstagram for this book, I thought it would be fun to read it along with other people and see how the story progresses. I got the opportunity to actually host the said readalong and boy was I glad! I enjoyed the entire book and the story was so much better for me than the 1st book. Now I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book!

The Blurb

Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church hierarchy think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending the men who destroyed her familia; in fact, she’s told directly that Consul Scaeva is off limits. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia’s suspicions about the Red Church’s true motives begin to grow.

The Book

The book begins where the 1st book ends. Mia is now a Blade for the Red Church but not everyone is pleased with the decision. She must prove her worth or die trying. But Mia has ulterior motives. She wants to avenge her family’s murder and bring the perpetrators to justice. As is classic Kristoff style, the book is filled with blood and gory battle scenes. Add to this, the witty and sarcastic banter between the shadow cat and shadow wolf, the book makes for a really fun read.

The descriptions of the fates of the slaves and gladiators were heart-wrenching to read. Mia is brilliant as always, both with her wit and with her strength. We see the emergence of old favorites as well as changes in the characters of old villains. What remains to be seen is where the author will take them in the next book.

Although it was a long book, the pace is quite fast and it did not make reading it a chore. Some of the parts of the story were a bit too predictable but the book ends on a cliffhanger and I can’t wait to see what the next installment of the story brings.

The Author

Jay Kristoff is the #1 international, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Nevernight Chronicles, The Illuminae Files and The Lotus War. He is the winner of six Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, has over half a million books in print and is published in over thirty five countries, most of which he has never visited.

I’ve written more about the author and his works in the review of Nevernight.

TL;DR: A fast paced book that is a fun read and leaves you eager to see how the series ends

Have you participated in readalongs lately?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Advanced Review Copy (ARC), Book review, Readathon, Received for Review

Bone China by Laura Purcell


Format: Paperback (ARC)

Length: 433 pages

Genre: Thriller, Paranormal, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror

Publisher: Raven Books (Bloomsbury)

Date of Publication: 19th September, 2019

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review

I read the author’s second novel, The Corset last year and absolutely loved it! So when the publisher offered to send an ARC of her next book, I jumped at the chance. I knew it was going to have dark and scary elements so it was an added bonus that I got to read it close to Halloween.

It was an added bonus that I could read it as a part of the Books N’ Beyond Halloween readathon and also Aksreads OctSpookathon!

The Blurb

Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the same disease in the cliffs beneath his new Cornish home. While he devotes himself to his controversial medical trials, Louise finds herself increasingly discomfited by the strange tales her new maid tells of the fairies that hunt the land, searching for those they can steal away to their realm.

Forty years later, Hester Why arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralysed and almost entirely mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try and escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers that her new home may be just as dangerous as her last.

The Book

The book is divided into two main points of view spread at least 40 years apart. While the main protagonist, Hester Why is set in the Georgian period, the story of her Mistress, Louise Pinecroft is set during her youth. Miss Pinecroft and her father are eager to cure Consumption, both for different reasons. However, the disease has plans of its own. The common thread between the stories is Creeda, the heterochromia affected maid who claims to see Little People through her blue colored eye.

Miss Why, a nurse-maid who grew up with the need to have people trust her and depend on her is thrown with her history of bad luck. All of her charges seem to die on her. She vows to not let it happen this time but the fates have other plans. While she doesn’t believe in Fairies, Creeda shows her enough reasons to start doubting her self-assuredness.

I loved the part of the story that dealt with the Pinecrofts and tuberculosis. It was interesting to see how ancient medical knowledge and practices varied from what we now practice in modern-day medicine. I also loved the folklore of Fairies and Little People. It was different from the happy and helpful fairies and pixies that we come across in most stories. I would have loved to read in more detail about Creeda’s methods to protect the household.

The part of the story with Miss Why seemed to lack meat on its bones. I would have loved for the author to explore her past especially with her family and her need to have people dependent on her. The ending was quite abrupt. Just as the modern story began to connect to the past, the book ended like the author was trying to preserve some amount of mystery which the book could have done without.

The Author

Laura Purcell is a former bookseller and lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs. Her first novel for Raven Books The Silent Companions won the WH Smith Thumping Good Read Award 2018 and featured in both the Zoe Ball and Radio 2 Book Clubs. Other Gothic novels include The Corset, Bone China and The Shape of Darkness(2020)

Laura’s historical fiction about the Hanoverian monarchs, Queen of Bedlam and Mistress of the Court, was published by Myrmidon.

I’ve written more about the author and her work in my review of The Corset

TL;DR: A book that had the potential to be a dark gothic novel but falls just short of it

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