A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden is the first installment of The Outlands Pentology.
I was very lucky to have been sent a copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review.
A Touch of Death is a science fiction, dystopian fantasy novel and when I first read about it I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it but I was wrong. I really enjoyed reading the book as it featured many aspects that I really like. Including good character development, crime, drama and anticipation.
I have said in many posts before, one thing I really enjoy in a book is good character development and I found that this book really had that. I really liked the main characters of Nate and Catherine and found their growing relationship to be very interesting. There was something very realistic about how it naturally grew from hatred to friendship. They work together as a team and you can see how each of their strengths and weaknesses work to complement each other.
I tend to stay clear of science fiction fantasy novels as many book are not believable and that comes with the territory but I felt that even although their world is nothing like reality it somehow felt as though it could have been. As I continued to read I felt completely immersed in their world and felt as though I was on the journey alongside them. This I would put down to the writing and the concept. The writing in this book is excellent and really made this book as good as it is.
The book does feature many tough ‘scenes’ as the title suggests and is full of twists and turns which kept me engaged and wanting to see how the characters responded and reacted.
One thing I would say however is the last section of the book I felt to be rushed on a little and having spent so long on the rest of the adventure this result could have been explored further. in saying this there were some real tear jerking moments in the ending which added some real depth to the book
Overall, I would recommend this book and I will definitely be adding the rest of the books to my TBR pile.
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to like, comment and share x)
This weeks author Q&A features Douglas Lindsay, author of ‘Song of the Dead’ (the first in the DI Westphall series).
I reached out to Douglas Lindsay to see if he would possibly be able to answer a few of my questions, which he said yes to. Thank you very much for doing so Douglas Lindsay, much apprecieted! my questions and his answers are as follows;
1. What made you want to become a writer?
I’ve always been a daydreamer, a fantasist. I remember reading Walter Mitty in school, and thinking, isn’t everyone like this? Why is this even a character in a story? So, I’d always thought about writing, but I hit my twenties and got a job in an office. Time passed. Then I married a diplomat, we moved to French-speaking Africa, I didn’t speak French, I mentioned to Kathryn that I could become a writer, she foolishly agreed, and that was twenty-five years ago. Kathryn’s still a diplomat, still waiting for the pay-off of me being a writer. On the plus side, I just made butternut squash, chili and crème fraiche soup for lunch, which I wouldn’t have done if I was working in an office.
2. Did you have any specific inspiration to write ‘Song of the Dead’?
Not in terms of story. I decided to write a new, first-person detective series, so the main influence, or non-influence, was my other first-person detective series, DS Hutton. Hutton is an alcoholic, foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed, opinionated, melancholic, PTSD-afflicted reprobate. I try to make him roguishly attractive, but I suspect plenty of readers just think he’s a bit of a dick. So, my basic starting point for Westphall was that he wasn’t Hutton. He doesn’t swear, he doesn’t sleep around, he’s calm, he’s reflective. He is melancholic, but all my leading characters are melancholic. The way the narrative develops then really stems from the character. Slow, measured, stopping to think on a regular basis.
The idea of the fellow turning up having been declared dead twelve years previously just came to me out of nowhere. Sounded intriguing, and that was all I had when I started writing the book, trusting myself to come up with a decent explanation along the way.
3. What did the process for writing this book look like? Did it involve much research?
Zero research. We’d just arrived in Estonia, where Kathryn was posted to the British embassy. I loved Tallinn. Straight off the bat, felt at home. We were there three years, and I’d move back in a shot if circumstances allowed.
I wanted to set the book there, but was aware that I really didn’t know the place. So, I used the narrative of an outsider arriving fresh in the country, and we see it through his eyes. It allowed me to be unfamiliar. It did get picked up and translated into Estonian, so hopefully I did a decent job in not offending anyone, or sounding naïve about the local culture.
4. This book has a lot of tough subjects (inc. loss, grief, suicide, crime), were these difficult to write about? And did you find it difficult balancing these within the book?
I find the melancholia really easy to access, very natural to write. There’s no reason for it. No childhood trauma, no PTSD. We all are the way we are, I guess, whatever that is. The story of Dorothy, which is really a small, sad, standalone tale detached from the main narrative, comes from me imagining what I’d do differently with my life if I was suddenly tossed back to university, and thinking through logically how bad that has the potential to be.
It’s interesting though that in the main narrative, there’s not a huge amount of grief, or sense of loss. We don’t really care about the victims, as we don’t particularly get to know them. That’s fairly common in my books. I like the detachment from real life, which is why the narrative is infused with the fantastical.
5. The book has two main settings, Scotland and Estonia, why did you choose to write with two setting and why these specifically?
Well, I’ve explained Estonia. It just felt like home. And the other place that feels like home is Scotland, of course. Since 1992, I’ve only lived there for two years, but the sense of place never leaves you. Those two years were spent living in Dingwall, and I have a lot of family up in that area, so I know it well. Not being a big reader of my fellows’ crime novels, I’ve no idea if there are any other detective series set in Ross-shire. I decided not to be bother checking. Just in case. The Highlands in general are such an extraordinary area to use in literature, and being based in Dingwall, does give scope to use such a huge swathe of the country. Again, no research, so I’ve no idea what area of the Highlands detectives out of Dingwall would cover. Maybe there aren’t even detectives in Dingwall…
6. This book is written in first person, was this a conscious decision?
It’s limiting, of course, in the sense of reporting the narrative of the story. You only ever know what the main detective knows. You can’t have things happening over there, somewhere else, where the detective isn’t. (Unless you cheat, and have third-person chapters, which in fact I do with DS Hutton, but decided not to do with Westphall.)
I do find first person very easy to write, however. Hutton, actually, is much easier than Westphall, because he’s so unfiltered. So, that was partly it, but it was also the issue I referred to previously. Setting the book somewhere with which I was so unfamiliar, if it had been written in the third person, I really would’ve had to get to know my town and the country a lot better. But I enjoyed the first person, stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect, so I didn’t feel like I was cheating in not researching. The narrative felt very natural.
7. I found DI Westphall really interesting, refreshing to have a character who isn’t perfect (eg fear of flying), did you find it importantthat he had flaws?
The flaws are the interesting bits. I also don’t see fear of flying as a flaw, by the way. It’s common sense! That was the downside of living in Estonia, the three-hour flight, which always seemed to last so much longer, back to the UK. I’d’ve driven every time if it had been practical.
The early Bond novels were a big influence on my writing. I remember always being more interested in Bond, his character and his flaws, than in whatever international espionage story he ended up involved in. I could’ve read three hundred pages of Bond being bored in London. And the man in those novels was so much more flawed that Connery or Moore ever were. I guess, now with Daniel Craig, they make him a little more human. But I remember a scene where Bond’s in the Caribbean, flying through a storm in a passenger plane, and he’s terrified, and I thought, that’s more like it.
8. Was ‘Song of the Dead’ always going to be part of a series?
That was always going to be publisher driven. Could I find one in the first place, and what would they like to do with it? I publish a lot of books myself through Amazon, but I wrote this one with intent of finding someone else to do it. It was initially picked up by Freight Books, and when they folded just before they were due to publish the second in the series, it was taken on by Mulholland/Hodder. They wanted three off the bat, but sadly it doesn’t look like they want any more. Unless something happens (in terms of sales or TV rights, neither of which seems likely at the moment), Westphall is probably done.
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Get on with it. It’s very easy to get bogged down in detail, to find reasons why you end up not writing much, or to give in to not feeling it on any particular day. I always think you should try to write through the bad days, hope that something comes out of it. You can always rewrite, and if ultimately you have to bin something because it’s bad, then it’s no different from not writing it in the first place. Better to get something down. The story will always grow and develop in the writing.
When you’re done, always, always, always print the book off and read it out loud. And try to do it in a day or two. It doesn’t just help with dialogue, but it really helps spot repetition, general typos, and even plot holes.
Then repeat at least once more, if not a couple of times. It gets boring, but it really helps the final polish.
10. Would you like to share anything else about ‘Song of the Dead’?
I like it. That isn’t always the case. I’m not, for example, particularly fond of the second Westphall book, BOY IN THE WELL. It was unusually a struggle to write, and I never really lost the sense of it not working. If I ever see a good review for it, I think, wow, dodged a bullet there. On the other hand, the third book, THE ART OF DYING, is my favourite of my own crime novels. Think it works really well.
I took the title of Book 2 from the REM song, and for Book 3 from the George Harrison song. Neither book is in any way related to the songs. I have no idea where the title for Book 1 came from. Must just’ve appeared in my head one day.
I loved reading this so I hope you have too! Thanks again to Douglas for taking the time to answer them! I would highly recommend reading this book for yourself but if you want to see my thoughts on this book I have written a previous blog post on it (check it out here!)
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to like, comment and share x)
This weeks author Q&A features author of ‘The two lives of Louis and Louise’ Julie Cohen
I have previously written a blog post about this book (Check it out here) and if you have read you will know I absolutely loved this book.
I reached out to Julie to see if she could possibly answer a few questions for this blog and she said YES! (thank you again !). I loved reading all her answers and I hope you do to.
What made you want to become a writer, and have you always wanted to be an author?
I’ve always been a reader, and reading great books make me want to write them. It was my dream as a little girl to write a book that would have a place on the shelves of the Rumford Public Library, where I grew up.
Did you have any specific inspiration, or influence to start writing in general, or specific to Louis and Louise ?
The idea for this particular book seemed to come out of the blue, but as a matter of fact I think it was a response to the #MeToo movement, and associated conversations about gender and power. I wondered, ‘What would it be like to write a book with one protagonist but in two separate realities—one where they were born male and one where they were born female?’ It gave me the opportunity to examine how gender and personality is shaped by how other people treat you, even before birth.
What research or process did you follow in order to write ‘Louis and Louise’?
I did some research on gender theory, specifically around the concept that gender, a social construction, is distinct from sex, which is biological. I was aided very much in this by the sensitivity reader I hired, who helped me with various ways of avoiding falling into the binary gender trap. I also did a lot of reading about toxic masculinity. Because the paper mill strike was based on a real life event, I spoke to several people who were involved in the strike.
This book is written from two different viewpoints of the same life, as Louis and Louise, as well as in two different timelines. Did you find this difficult when writing the novel and do you have any tips of anyone writing with multiple timelines and viewpoints?
I planned the two timelines separately, though I knew that some events had to happen in both stories. First I worked out what was the same in both realities, and then worked out how they would be different just because of Lou’s gender. I started with the Louise timeline, because as a woman I felt more sure of her actions and feelings and voice, but by the time I got to the midpoint of the book I was writing both Lous alternately. When I plan something difficult like this, I generally use different colour Post-its to help me keep track—I’ve got a course online to show you how to do it! https://novel-gazing-with-julie-cohen.teachable.com/p/using-post-its-to-transform-your-writing
I found this book beautiful, moving and at times dramatic. It also features the themes of gender, sexuality and stereotyping and how this affects people’s lives. Were you always planning on writing a book with these themes?
Thank you! Yes, I think once I’d come up with the concept of a book exploring how other people’s conceptions of our gender affects our entire lives, all of those topics became inevitable. They’re themes that I’m really interested in anyway and which crop up again and again in my novels.
The book features some tough topics, including loss, did you find this difficult to write about?
There are a few scenes that I found incredibly difficult to write and in fact I have trouble now reading both scenes with Lou and Benny in the basement because I find them both upsetting.
You have previously said that the hometown of Lou was based off of your own hometown in Maine, was this a conscious decision~? and do you think that this aided or hindered you when writing this book?
Casablanca was very deliberately based on my home town in Maine. It’s almost identical in a lot of ways, including history and geography, and I based several incidents on things that really happened in or near the town—for example, the strike and what happens to Benny in Louis’s timeline. When I was growing up, my town was very homophobic (fortunately that has improved over the years) and that is an important part of the book, too.
Do you plan to write any more novels and if so, do you think they will feature some of the themes that Louis and Louise did?
My latest novel, SPIRITED, is a historical novel about ghost photography, and although the story is completely different, it also looks at gender roles, sexuality, sexual assault, loss, guilt, violent death, class, and the nature of love. These are things that interest me so they tend to keep cropping up. SPIRITED is out now in hardback, ebook and audio.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors and writers?
Read a lot, and write a lot, and never give up.
I hope you enjoyed reading those and if you haven’t already read the book (GO READ IT) I hope it inspires you to do so.
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to like, comment and share 🙂 )
Erica Waters, author of ‘Ghost Wood Song’, has kindly answered some questions about being an author and her book.
I reached out to Erica Waters, after reading her book ‘Ghost Wood Song‘, to see if she could possibly answer a few questions for my blog. Amazingly she responded and answered them (very much appreciated) so here are her answers;
1. What made you want to become a writer, primarily YA novels?
I have loved writing since early elementary school and have always thought of myself as a writer, from angsty middle school poetry to creative nonfiction in college. But when I was getting my M.A. in English, I took a creative writing class and fell in love with writing fiction. Soon after, I read Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and realized I would love to write books like those.
2. Did you have any specific inspiration or influence to write ‘Ghost Wood Song’?
One day, I was upstairs writing in my attic office when I heard someone playing a banjo. We have a few banjos in our house, but I was the only one home. When I went downstairs, the music stopped. So that got me to thinking about a connection between ghosts and bluegrass instruments, and Shady’s ghost-raising fiddle was born!
3. What did your process for writing this book look like? Did it require a lot of research?
I wrote this book fairly quickly, within about three months, but it took years of revision to get it to the form it’s in today. My research largely involved listening to music, especially bluegrass and folk. The book grew out of my connection to that music.
4. This book features a lot of big topics such as loss and love, did you find that the book required a balance between these?
Yes, it was often difficult to balance between the heavier aspects of the novel and the more lighthearted ones. Shady is dealing with tremendous grief for her father, as well as with a difficult home life, plus the scary supernatural stuff. But I also wanted to let her have some of the ordinary teen experiences, thus her relationships with Sarah and Cedar and all that drama! It was challenging to keep all those plates in the air without dropping one. I hope I succeeded.
5. An LGBTQ+ love triange is present in the book, was this a conscious decision to include different sexualities?
I’m bisexual and tend to write characters who share my sexual orientation. I do think it’s important for readers to see representations of bisexual characters written by bisexual people because public perception of bisexuals is often negative. It felt important to allow Shady to be herself, which is a sweet, determined, bighearted girl who also happens to be attracted to more than one gender.
6. At the core of this book is music, even Shady Groves name, is this something that was always the plan and with this genre of music?
Yes! In fact, the first line of this book I ever wrote was “My daddy named me Shady Grove, after the old Appalachian song.” This book is twined with bluegrass and folk and americana music in general. There’s no Ghost Wood Song without this music.
7. There are many great characters in ‘Ghost Wood Song’, do you have a favourite?
My favorite character to write was Orlando, Shady’s friend and bandmate. He’s a budding entomologist, a peacemaker, and a joker. I always felt happy when Orlando was in a scene. I find myself thinking about him a lot, wondering what he might be up to after the end of GHOST WOOD SONG.
8. Do you plan to write any more books?
Yes! I have another YA contemporary fantasy coming out in July 2021 called THE RIVER HAS TEETH, and I’m hard at work on new projects.
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
My best advice is to let other people into your writing life. We love the romantic idea of the lone writer typing away on their masterpiece, but the reality involves a lot more community. Sure, the writer comes up with the idea and writes it, but there are so many other people who touch a book— critique partners, beta readers, literary agents, editors, copyeditors, proofreaders, and everyone else involved in the book’s production. If you want a book to be successful, you have to welcome those people in and let them have some ownership of the book too. Even though your books feel like a part of you, you can’t cling too tightly to them or else they’ll never make it—and you won’t either. My critique partners, agent, and editor have shaped my work so much and made me a much better writer. I’m endlessly grateful for them
I loved reading Erica’s answers and I hope you did too! I again would like to that Erica for taking the time to answer my questions, its greatly appreciated.
I have a previous post on ‘Ghost Wood Song’ if you want to hear my thoughts on the book (check it out here), but I would highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already. And if you have read this book already and loved it like I did, you probably can’t wait to read ‘The River has Teeth’ (much like me !)
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to like, comment and share x)
Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy is a young adult historical fantasy novel that is set in Denmark in the 19th century. In this world secrets can kill and magic is a deadly gift. For Marit Olsen, magic is all about strategy; it flows freely through her blood but every time she uses a bt of her magic a deadly, ice-like build-up replaces it, this build up is the Firn.
For the majority of the book we follow Marit and she tries to uncover the secrets that caused her fathers death. We follow her as she moves from the orphanage where her chosen sister also resides when she is one day chosen to be adopted by Helene Vestergaard. (Eves hero and very famous dancer). Marit manages to get a job as a seamstress at the vestergaard house to stay with Eve. whilst there she uncovers the secrets and lies that surrounds the Vestergaard mines.
I really liked this book, I thought it was just enough fantasy to keep you engaged however at the same time quite realistic. Yes, the use of magic isn’t all that real but I think they way that Murphy has written it in a way that it does seem like it is possible. The book is well written and easy to follow and the structure of the book is good, where it is split into fairly small chapters which follow a specific character (mainly Marit however towards the end we see more viewpoints).
Mystery is evident throughout the book and keeps you reading but alongside this there is many other themes of loss, friendship, love and magic. I think this book is a perfect mix. The mystery all comes to a head in the last few chapters which are so engaging and exciting that it keeps you on the edge of your seat (I won’t share what happens, that’s for you to find out !)
I really liked the character Marit, she is fierce and determined. after being orphaned after her fathers death and losing her elder sister to the Firn she carries on and whilst in the orphanage she meets Eve. Eve is her closest friend and the love she has for her is real. She wants what is best for Eve even if that effects herself and we see that more prominently as we read the book. I really liked this friendship as it did feel real, that they both met in this orphanage that brought them together and Marit following her to the Vesergaard to get a job where she can still be around her best friend. At times in the story you see their friendship falter and is affected by the world outside the orphanage but as we will them to be good again, you see how Marit is affected and want to fix whatever issues have occurred.
It wasn’t only Marit who I loved to meet but we get to meet a whole load of people from the Vestergaard household that gives this book much more depth and realism. We meet more of the servants that work in the house alongside Marit who all are willing to use their magic to keep the job in this house, no matter the risk. We also meet Helene herself, Eve’s new mother and her family. some good, some bad however all integral to the story.
Overall, I would say I really liked this book. I received it in the Book Box Subscription service and I am glad I did. I would definitely recommend to lovers of YA, historical fantasy and mystery lovers!
Find me by André Aciman is a fictional novel which follows the characters we previoulsy met in Call me by your name.
This book shows us how the characters of Oliver and Elio have evolved since the previous book and what their lives are now. This book also provides us with an insight into Elio’s father Samuel. In fact, it seemed a large portion of the novel was about Samuel and his relationship with a younger woman. I was disappointing as their wasn’t too much about Elio and Oliver and how the events in Call me by your name was effecting their lives in this book. You get a couple of looks at that but I feel the book was overpowered by Samuel’s story line which felt a bit pointless in itself.
I would say that I didn’t find it hugely necessary to carry on the story from Call me by your name and I at times felt that it would have been better leaving it at that. Saying that as I read this book I was enjoying it but not necesarily as a follow up to the previous book. I was so excited to read this book after loving Call Me By Your Name, and I felt a little disapointed as it was less about Oliver and Elio and more about Samuel.
I would say however the cover of this book is really simple yet beautiful, the colours reflect a romantic story and if I hadn’t read Call Me By Your Name I may have picked this up purely due to that!
Overall, I would say I was disapointed when I read this book as I felt the main characters we want to reconcile with were pushed to the background and in the foreground was a look at Samuel (whose story felt out of place) I would say however that I like André Acimans writing and maybe if I had read this without looking at it as the sequel to Call Me by your Name I would have a different outlook on it.
I wouldn’t necesarily recomend this book, expecially if you have read Call me by your name (It felt it should end with that book). I would however recommend Call me by your name to anyone who hasn’t read it yet! (I have a previous blog post all about that one!)
Go Ask Alice is a fiction book in the style of a diary which follows a young girl and her experiences with drugs.
Upon looking further into this book after reading, although it said to be written by ‘anonymous’ and to be an excerpt from a real diary it is now beleived to have been written by Beatrice Sparks. It is a popular book and as of it remained continuoslly in print, over 4 decades since its release in 1971.
When reading this book, I felt as though this could have been written by a young girl struggling with drug addiction who runs away from home and experiences things she shouldn’t. Some of the things recorded in this book are hard to read and an extreme and although many feel it is unrealistic I am not sure I agree. It is less about the specifics and the book as a whole for me. Its about the journey the young girl is on and how she copes with this journey.
I liked the diary structure of the book as it felt realistic and with each excerpt being fairly short, it made me want to read on (just one more section!) I was graphic at times which can be hard to read but I think that made the message of the book stronger and there are extremes to the world of drug addiction at a young age.
This book has mixed reviews with many claiming it as anti-drug propaganda and unbelievable with others praising the awareness, and messages throughout the book. I felt it was realistic enough and brought attention to the consequences of drugs. Strange things happen everyday so who is so to say that the events in this book would never happen. Even if they didn’t I would say I am not sure that it really matters as the message would be the same, there are dangers and consequences to drug abuse.
I liked this book and would recommend, whether you look at it as fictional or not. It is a very impactful read and with a message that should be heard.
The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott is an adventure/ historical fiction novel that is set in 454AD, as the Roman Empire has withdrawn from Britain.
This historic novel follows the main female protagonist names Mai and we follow her journey through the dark ages and facing Saxon Warriors. It is full of the mysticism of early Britain and we get to delve into the world of Mai.
We start the book with Mai, Haf (sister) and her Tad at their farm when Saxon warrors arrive and the family must flee. we follow their journey to the british camp on the hills and are given an insight into how Mai is feeluing and how she copes with the change. We see her struggle wwith her new situation and wants to leave. She continues in the British camp until she finds herself in trouble and ends up in a dangerous Saxon Camp. in a world where speaking your mother tongue is deadly she must learn Saxon words in porder to survive. but will this be enough?
I also liked the character of Mai in this book. As the protagonist we follow her journey through her experience with the dark ages and Saxon warriors as she become a strong independent woman. We also get to see her relationships with others including her sister Haf and how this effects her and the outcome of her life which I felt added another dimension to the character. She is only young yet we see her go through so much which adds strength to her character. We see her become strong and resilient in a world that doesn’t appreciate who she is.
This book was also a lot about Identify and language and we see how Mai’s is affected as she is forced to speak a language that isn’t her own. She loses part of herself when she can no longer speak her mother tongue and throughout the book we see how this effects her. How much she misses to be able to speak her own language. At one point she tears up after having heard her mother tongue spoken freely which shows the importance of her language is to her.
Generally, I don’t enjoy books that are set far in the past and I can’t say I would have picked this up if I hadn’t received this in July’s Book Box Club subscription box. Saying that, I enjoyed this book and was fully engaged from the beginning. Throughout the book I noticed saying to my self ‘just one more page’ a lot, which to me is a good sign!
Overall, I would recommend this book (even if you are not usually a fan of historic fiction like myslef). It is full of adventure and with a strong female lead you constantly want to read on. even though it features a complex character it is easy to read and enjoy and is almost poetic in its writing.
Smoke gets in your eyes: and other stories from the crematorium by Caitlin Doughty is a non-fiction work which looks at life working at a crematorium.
It is almost like a collection of non-fiction short stories surrounding Doughty work within the crematorium, all of which were interesting and curious. I have never really thought about what happened at a place like that and who would want to work there but this provides a great insight. It makes you think about the events of a funeral/cremation and how they have evolved and changed over time and between cultures.
Although this book has a lot to do with death it doesn’t really fell a heavy book to read and is an interesting read, this is likely due to Doughty humour throughout as well as her engaging writing style. It is full of facts about what happens in a crematorium and what has changed (and what Doughty feels should change) as well as practices in some other cultures surrounding the dead.
It is the mix between the facts and Doughty personal experience as a crematorium worker which was made this a great book, in my opinion. It made it feel more understandable and intriguing. I liked the fact the book was split up into different chapters or stories as it felt easier to read and more engaging.
This book is entertaining, morbid and factual allowing you to learn about something new while you read! I would recommend!
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS feel free to comment or like)
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All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew is a psychological suspense story that was released in August 2018.
It follows the viewpoint of 3 people in the aftermath of a school shooting. You get to hear from the shooters mother, a victims mother and the detective inspector in charge of the investigation. I really enjoyed the structure of this book as it allowed you to look at three key people and how an event like that effects them.
It is a very intense story that is emotional to read but due to the fact it was a school shooting and events like that happen almost daily in places such as the USA it is necessary. It had to look at the events in a realistic way to help show the true nature of the event and the aftermath.
The book gripped you from the very beginning and it was written in such a clear way that it helped to portray the story excellently.
The media is also looked at and how the media can affect the people involved. All the victims killed can be looked at negatively as well as the shooters family but this shouldn’t be the case. No one deserves to be involved in such an event, we should grieve for the victims not turn them into monsters and I think the book shows this.
I really enjoyed this book and it had a huge impact on me as a reader. The events are something that effects thousands of people who have faced such a tragic time in the past and those who continue to face them. As a debut novel it is remarkable and powerful and a book I would 100% recommend.
I have a Q&A coming out at the end of the month with the author of this book , Claire Askew so look out for that,