Marcus Sedgwick was one of my favourite writers as a teenager, so when I learned he’d written a book for adults, I was keen to check it out. A Love Like Blood retains many of the elements of his YA fiction – a Gothic feel, a historical setting, and elements of the supernatural – while delving into more adult themes such as desire, grief, and obsession. I thought it was a smart, literate, and gripping delve into a disturbing and violent underworld.
Disgrace has become something of a contemporary classic since winning the Booker Prize in 1999. J.M. Coetzee’s searing novel of a man who’s lost his way in a changing South Africa was in 2006 named ‘the greatest novel of the last 25 years’ by The Observer, and made it onto BBC News’ list of the 100 most influential novels in 2019. It’s a short book, but Coetzee makes every word count as it builds to its shattering conclusion.
The genesis of Under the Pendulum Sun came from Jeanette Ng’s MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies. It was there she gained an interest in missionary theology, which forms the backbone of the novel, though it’s set in the Victorian era. Other influences include the Brontës, namely Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and Paradise Lost. This is to say that it’s a heady cocktail of the Gothic, religious, and fantastical. It has a very simple premise, which she used to pitch the novel: Victorian missionaries in fairyland.
Patrick Ness is best known as a writer for children and young people, but he’s also written two novels for adults: The Crash of Hennington and The Crane Wife. The Crane Wife was published in 2013, and is a loose retelling of a Japanese folktale of the same name. Ness relocates the story to contemporary London, making the protagonist a middle-aged divorcee who works in a printing shop (also, like Ness himself, an American in Britain). It’s something of an experiment, with mixed success, but still a lot to enjoy.
Atticus Book Reviews
Book reviews and reading recommendations written by volunteers and friends of the shop!