100 word review: The Bunker Diary, by Kevin Brooks

Dark. Grim. Sadness. This is a book for young people won the Carnegie prize, with much controversy. Apparently, children can’t read dark books. Except The Scarlet Letter, Lord of the Flies, or Brave New World. This book is good. It’s astoundingly bleak, but it’s a fascinating portrait of the lives of six people who, one […]

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100 word review: Red.Doc>, by Anne Carson

I wondered often as I red this book if I was clever or educated enough to get it, and I wondered if that even mattered. Reading this book is like tossing yourself into a storm-laden sea, to be battered back and forth by words, astounded by gorgeous, lush fragments of phrase and crystalline images of […]

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100 word review: The Mirror Empire, by Kameron Hurley

Another Hurley, another narrative in which we’re tossed into the deep end and expected to swim. Hurley’s vivid imagination and mad ambition means that she’s once again created a complex world with few, if any, touchpoints. Three empires exist in a fragile peace, while an unknowable cataclysm approaches after two thousand years of silence. Hurley […]

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100 word review: Foreign Gods, Inc, by Okey Ndibe

Ike (EE-kay) is a taxi driver with a cum laude degree in Economics from Amherst. And he’s Nigerian, with an unshakeable accent. He’s never been able to catch a break, until now. He’s discovered a gallery called Foreign Gods, Inc, which sells gods to the über-rich. Ike decides to go back to his village in […]

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100 word review: The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson

I shouldn’t be allowed to review the dust on the shoes of this book. It’s beyond a classic. It’s seminal. The Shining wouldn’t exist without it. Eleanor, our sometime protagonist, gets a letter inviting her to come to a place called Hill House, on the outskirts of Hillsdale. Reminiscent of The Awakening, Eleanor discovers her […]

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100 word review: Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, by Samuel R. Delaney

100 words isn’t enough to do this book justice: it’s a massively ambitious take on power as it relates to gender, race, and cultural dynamics wrapped around what might be a love story. The plot hinges on a theory of perfect attraction: that you can discover what a person is attracted to and thus, eventually, […]

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100 word review: Verdigris Deep, by Frances Hardinge

The secret author Frances Hardinge has hit it again. How is this woman who’s written these astounding Weird books for kids(ish) keep going unnoticed? Three children steal coins from a wishing well so they can get home on time. These children are all going through normal coming-of-age problems, but they’re about to get a whole […]

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100 word review: Pen Pal, by Francesca Forrest

This book is built on a brilliant premise: a girl living on the edge of civilisation on the Gulf coast of America sends out a message in a bottle and it ends up in the hands of a political prisoner trapped over a lake of lava. The story of each comes out as they speak […]

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100 word review: Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above, by Ian Sales

This is the third of Ian Sales’ Apollo Quartet – I loved both the first and the second novellas. Short books, based on a series of what-ifs around the early days of the space programme. You get the sense that if anyone could plan an Apollo moon mission today, they’d speak to Sales, although he […]

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Several hundred words review: The First Stone by Elliott Hall

100 words: overall Elliott Hall has written a very readable, fun, by-the-numbers hard boiled detective story. There’s an ugly murder – which is obviously a set-up. Our Hero, a Fundamentally Good Detective, Felix Strange(in suit and fedora, no less) with Unusual Strong Moral Qualms, is called in and strong-armed into investigating and uncovering the culprit, […]

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