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The premise for Amy Lord’s debut novel The Disappeared is an attractive one – that reading the ‘wrong’ book, having the ‘wrong’ thoughts, can get you arrested. It’s an idea that’s been explored before very successfully in novels like Ray Bradbury’s wonderful Fahrenheit 451. In this incarnation, we’re in a dystopian Britain, where The General and his army control the country and the opinion of the masses.

Protagonist Clara has experienced the consequences of veering away from the norm first hand. Her father is one of the disappeared, taken away when she just 11, by the Authorisation Bureau for teaching his students banned books. Twenty years later, Clara teaches the very literature that got her father arrested, but in a dying society, thoughts, opinions, ideas are surely the only way forward?

Some of Lord’s imagery is eerily familiar – the black-and-grey uniforms of the young brutish Authorisation Bureau men, the sexual threat and abuse that keep women in particular subjugated, people huddled around oil drums, warming their hands from the flames as the carcasses of vehicles lay littered nearby, and books deemed degenerate or inappropriate by certain groups with particular agendas, wishing to control how people behave, look, think. These are all too recognisable scenes.

In a world in which many of the rights and freedoms we’ve come to take for granted are being eroded, in some cases seemingly overnight, this book will resonate.

 

Amy Lord | The Disappeared | Unbound | May 2019 | paperback original | £10.99 | ebook also available

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Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Anne Cater and the publisher for sending a review copy. This review should have been part of the virtual book tour; unforeseen circumstances made that impossible. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.

 

Also of interest: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Permission by Saskia Vogel‘; ‘ Stephanie Butland bringing women into focus’; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;Changing the narrative: The Red Word; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.