the literary lounge

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  There’s something extremely unsettling about Harriet Tyce’s Blood Orange – unsettling, unnerving, compelling. As I read it, I could feel myself getting more and more tense and then angry – at the characters and the situations they put themselves in, yes, but then at myself. So many of the things that the protagonist experiences … Continue readings

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  The rain creates walls in the night. Falling from the sky, they are like mirrors, reflecting and warping the blue light from the police car. Everything spins. The street emerges from the darkness and loses itself behind the harbour lights, and there – right in the middle, just where it suddenly drops downhill – … Continue readings

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  There’s seemingly much to like about Inborn, Thomas Enger’s latest tome. Set in Friedheim, a small village in Norway, where everyone pretty much knows each other’s business, it opens with the deaths of teens Mari Lindgren and Johannes Eklund. As suspicion falls on Even, Mari’s recently axed boyfriend, he finds himself  judged on social … Continue readings

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  According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), migraines are rated the nineteenth most common reason for disability globally. Sufferers reportedly visit A&E/doctors twice as much as patients who don’t have the disorder, and use twice the number of prescription drugs. But can the symptoms of this debilitating disorder (and Meniere’s Disease) be managed through … Continue readings

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  An ebook sensation, selling over 100,000 copies, The Sewing Machine by Scottish author Natalie Fergie is published this month, in paperback, by Unbound. Spanning the years from 1911 to 2016, Fergie’s novel was inspired by her own collection of sewing machines and her desire for just one more – the Singer 99K. When she … Continue readings

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  Kate London’s Gallowstree Lane is a tense, gritty procedural thriller set in the UK capital’s less salubrious streets. Opening with a funeral in November 2016 and panning back to the graphic death of teenager Spencer Cardoso, as witnessed by best mate 15-year-old Ryan, the novel is fast-paced and tautly written, filled with the kind … Continue readings

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  Published by the digital imprint Bookouture, Sarah Mitchell’s The Couple is a psychological thriller set in dual time. As the book opens, we find Claire, an immigration lawyer, and Angus, an entrepreneur, engaged after a whirlwind romance, although Claire still has residual feelings for her ex- and Angus seems almost too good to be … Continue readings

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  Liz Heron’s novel The Hourglass explores the themes of love and ever-lasting life against the majestic backdrop of Venice. The book is inspired by Leoš Janáček’s opera, The Makropulos Affair, about: ‘A beautiful woman, 300 years old – and forever young.’ The opening finds Paul Geddes travelling to Venice to meet wealthy widow Eva … Continue readings

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  There was a single homestead somewhere to the north of the fence, and another to the south. Next-door neighbours, three hours apart. The road to the east was invisible from the grave itself. And road was a generous description. The wide dirt track could sit silent for days without being troubled by a vehicle. … Continue readings

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  Slowly, she unravelled each word of the sentence. ‘“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.”’ ‘Oh,’  she said. ‘Oh.’ ‘You can read, Kya. There will never be a time when you can’t read.’ ‘It ain’t just that.’ She spoke almost in a whisper.’ I wadn’t aware that words … Continue readings

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  ‘My idea is to create a collection of fairy tales and folklore that works upon the model they initiated in the Household Tales. I want to go further than them, however. … What I will produce will be pure, the original language of the peasants, the true magic. That is why it’s vital that … Continue readings

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  Katharine Johnson’s The Secret is set in Santa Zita, Italy. Both a historical novel and thriller, it moves rather seamlessly between the past, the Second World War, and present, when the village is undergoing regeneration. As part of the latter, journalist Carlo returns to his birthplace to open a restaurant with wife Cass. His … Continue readings

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  In the early pages of James Flint’s Midland, Alex Wold receives news of two deaths, that of the bottlenose whale, whom he’d waded into the Thames, earlier that day, to help save, and then, moments later, that of Tony Nolan, his former step-father. As James and his estranged brother come together with other members … Continue readings

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  We were huge fans of Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Language of Secrets; thus, it’s a pleasure that Among the Ruins, the third novel featuring Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, measures up. It’s beautifully written, has tight characterisation and plot, a great evocation of place and, more to the point, it’s relevant. The book opens … Continue readings

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  Matt Wesolowski’s Changeling is like a masterclass in how to construct a good plot. It’s exacting, clever and chilling, while using themes and motifs of which we are all culturally aware, and of which we’re fearful, in ways that constantly challenge our perception, making us question what’s truth and what’s reality – and frankly … Continue readings