The weather for the last week here has been beautiful – sunny and warm, the air filled with bumbling bees and dancing butterflies, the ground bubbling with bluebells. When it has rained, it’s been a gentle rain of blossom trickling to the earth.
And every chance I could snatch throughout the week I was outside in the garden clutching my copy of The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden, being transported to the wilds of northen Russia.
The story follows Vasya as she tries to keep her community safe from forces they themselves have awakened after they abandon the old folktales and instead rely on the fearmongering of an ambitious, beguiling priest.
The story brims with creatures and magic – it had me keeping an eye out for Domovoi in the kitchen just how The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe had me checking the back of my wardrobe (plus pretty much any cupboard in the house, just to be sure) for another world.
I absolutely loved it. It’s enchanting, beautifully written, and the creatures and characters – especially Vasya – come alive on the page.
I didn’t really want it to end, so I’m very happy to hear that it’s the first book of a series.
Happy reading and happy Easter!
The Faerie Thorn by Jane Talbot is a collection of seven short stories inspired by folklore, fairytales and magick. They’re deliciously dark and gruesome – full of faeries, trolls, mermen and maids, shapeshifters, spells, dastardly deeds, bittersweet bargains, nightmarish consequences, and satisfying comeuppances.
I’ve found the stories both enchanting and unsettling. Their short length gives them an addictive energy that’s made a refreshing change – kind of apt at the beginning of springtime – after struggling my way through Dracula.
The style of writing is unlike anything I’ve read before – it has a lyrical, slightly poetic feel to it which I really enjoyed. In my head I felt like I was listening to the stories being told around a flickering fire, sat right forward, barely blinking, hanging on every word.
It’s definitely worth reading. And if you’re anything like me, you won’t want to put it down!
I read The Buried Giant without having read any of Kazuo Ishiguro’s other books, which – from looking through some of the reactions to its release last year – I feel might have been a blessing. I had no particular expectations or ideas as to what I would find.
I’ve enjoyed it. It’s not my favourite book in the whole wide world, but it is engaging and interesting, and I feel like it might be one of those stories that stays simmering away quietly in the back of my head for a while.
The story follows Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple who set off to a nearby village in search of their son. Their relationship is intriguing – close, but with a sense of underlying trouble. On their journey, they meet a Saxon warrior, a boy bitten by a dragon, and an elderly Sir Gawain (King Arthur’s nephew).
I was interested that so many complaints I saw for The Buried Giant centred around it being fantasy. It certainly is – you know straight away that you’re in a land of mist, ogres, dragons and pixies – but I found it to be uncomplicated and matter-of-fact. A sort of gentle otherworldliness. There just are ogres and pixies and a strange mist that affects everybody’s memory. But the genre a book belongs to does not determine how good or bad a story is.
My only real complaint would be the dialogue, which I thought was quite dull and strangely formal. There were a few times when it actually became quite irritating. But that could just be me!
I’d be really interested to know what others thought of The Buried Giant. Did anyone else find the dialogue frustrating? Or does having read Ishiguro’s other books make this one harder to like?