So far this year, I’ve struggled to find novels that truly engage me. I consume audiobooks differently that the written word; it’s not exactly passive, but I definitely feel more involved with a book if I’m actively reading the words. It may be to do with the fact that when I read a book, it has my total attention, whereas when I’m listening to an audiobook I’m usually doing it as background noise for something else.
But April has been kind to me, in that I’ve read two fantastic novels by authors that I already loved. First up was Starve Acre, by Andrew Michael Hurley, an incredibly unsettling folk horror about a family dealing with a devastating loss. I adored Hurley’s debut novel, The Loney, but I was a little disappointed by his follow-up, Devil’s Day. This is a true return to form, perhaps even better than The Loney.
And last night I stayed up WAY past my bedtime (which I never do), to finish Evie Wyld’s new novel, The Bass Rock. Holy moly, this book is amazing. A little hint of folk horror, but mostly unrelenting terror, committed by both supernatural, and natural forces. I’m still thinking about all the things left unsaid in this book. I recommend her previous novel, All the Birds, Singing, as well.
During April, I’ve been pretty consistent with my daily short story reading. I didn’t read one yesterday because I was so keen to read The Bass Rock. I read 33 stories (so far), and loved seven of them. To celebrate the two-year anniversary of my reading adventure, I re-read the story that started the whole thing, Waxy by the amazing Camilla Grudova. It’s still amazing, and I think I probably appreciate it more now than I did when I first read it. Grudova’s collection, The Doll’s Alphabet, is fantastic, and I can’t recommend it enough.
I continued with the amazing collection, This Dreaming Isle, with Aliya Whiteley’s Dark Shells, a fascinating story of memory and buried secrets. Sarah Pinsker ripped my heart out again, with The Low Hum of Her, a story centered around the holocaust, and a father’s unconventional display of love for his daughter.
Leonora Carrington continues to be the writer of my dreams, with the incredibly absurd and hilarious A Man in Love.
I got my hands on an incredible collection called Haunting Women, edited by Alan Ryan. It’s full of wonderfully spooky tales by female writers. I was so captivated by Jean Rhys’ The Sound of the River that I read it twice in a row. So unnerving. Can’t wait to explore more of her short stories.
Next week I’ll finally be able to get my sticky paws on Samantha Schweblin’s new novel, Little Eyes. I still haven’t been able to get hold of Sisters by Daisy Johnson, or Sarah Moss’ Summerwater. I am confident they will both be worth the wait. I paused reading It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan to prioritize Starve Acre and The Bass Rock, but I will come back to it.
I’m very excited about Camilla Bruce’s You Let Me In, which is currently waiting on my Kindle. I read something about it in The Guardian a while ago that piqued my interest, but if I were just going off the cover, I’d definitely be avoiding this book. I much prefer the UK cover, which I hope is more reflective of the content. See if you can decipher which cover is which below.
That’s April 2020, a month I doubt I’ll forget in a hurry for various reasons. Here’s to an exciting May.