Book Review: Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward
Looking Glass Sound Book Review 4/5
From the publisher: “Writers are monsters. We eat everything we see… In a windswept cottage overlooking the sea, Wilder Harlow begins the last book he will ever write. It is the story of his childhood companions and the shadowy figure of the Daggerman, who stalked the New England town where they spent their summers. Of a horror that has followed Wilder through the decades. And of Sky, Wilder’s one-time friend, who stole his unfinished memoir and turned it into a lurid bestselling novel, The Sound and the Dagger. This book will be Wilder’s revenge on Sky, who betrayed his trust and died without ever telling him why. But as he writes, Wilder begins to find notes written in Sky’s signature green ink, and events in his manuscript start to chime eerily with the present. Is Sky haunting him? And who is the dark-haired woman drowning in the cove, whom no one else can see? No longer able to trust his own eyes, Wilder feels his grip on reality slipping. And he begins to fear that this will not only be his last book, but the last thing he ever does. Discover the new dark thriller from the bestselling author of The Last House on Needless Street.”
A book that you will want to read in one sitting – page-turning, addictive, and thoroughly unsettling.
Wilder’s parents inherit a cottage in laid back Whistler Bay. Spending a summer there, he meets Harper and Nat, building a close friendship over the following months – set against the unsettling background of local legends, specifically a killer named the Daggerman. What seems to start as an idyllic teenage summer starts to become something more, and events come to a head with a gruesome discovery. Years later, Wilder returns to Whistler Bay to complete his book about the events of that summer, and to make sense of the events that changed his life. However, things were not – are not – what they seemed.
This truly is a book of two halves. I was drawn further and further into the story, but towards the end I was wondering just what was going on! Safe to say, nothing is as it seemed – I absolutely did not see the end coming, at all. The story flits between timelines and characters, giving an uneasy feel which is apt, but makes for a confusing read. I’m still not too sure what actually happened in the build up to the final revelation, and I’m still not sure how I feel about that – I love a storyline with twists and turns, however this one left me spinning! I’d have liked to spend more time with the events towards the end of the book – maybe a slower reveal, as the final fast pace was a contrast to the slow build up. I wanted more richness, I wanted to explore the events further, I wanted to understand and spend time in those delicious dark details.
This is my first Catriona Ward book, and from reading other reviews the twists and turns seem to be a hallmark of Ward’s style – I’m so tempted to re-read and get a better purchase on the events that transpired in Whistler Bay. One thing is for sure though – it’s quite dark and very, very twisty, although I wouldn’t call it a horror. I honestly found the last few chapters hard to follow, but I also enjoyed the rollercoaster ride that had me thinking “did that actually just happen?!” at multiple points – I loved the way the story suddenly seemed to drop off a cliff and transform into something altogether more sinister, but it was very close to the line of possibly being too twisty for me – I’m still undecided. Although it’s made me want to seek out more books by Catriona Ward, so that can only be a good thing!
Looking Glass Sound was published on 20th April 2023.
Thank you to Netgalley from the ARC of this novel!
Previous book review: The Square of Sevens by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
What I’m planting in April – Yorkshire Cottage Garden Seed Sowing
What I’m planting in April
The chill of March is slowly ebbing away, and we have finally put up the heated propagator. Last year, I got over excited and put it up in February – the outcome being that when the plants outgrew the propagator, it was still too cold to plant them out. So, I’ve held back a little this year and hopefully got the timing right. As always, it’s a mix of veg and flowers – I usually plant way too many things and get overwhelmed, so I’m trying to hold back this year and just keep on top of everything.
The field beans and broad beans from last month are mostly germinated, including the saved seed, so that’s exciting! A few more weeks and I’ll pop them out into the veg patch, hopefully around the end of April as it warms up.
What I’m planting in April in the heated propagator
The nights are still cold and frost is still a risk here in Yorkshire, so I’m starting a few bits off in the propagator. Last year it we tracked how much it cost to keep on, and it was negligible – this year it seems to be about 2p an hour after all of the price rises! So we’re popping it on overnight at around 21c, and the residual heat and sunlight keeps it warm through the day.
A slight cheat as I planted these in March, and they’re just peeking their little leaves above the soil. Our chillies did really well last year so this year I’ve got a few more varieties, all from Real Seeds. Last year, ‘Nigel’s Outdoor Chillies’ did excellently in the conservatory, eventually even turning red, and they’re a great versatile chilli with a medium heat, so more of those this year, alongside a hot lemon aji ‘Lemon Drop’ and ‘Kristian’ yellow chillis. I have a feeling chilli jam might be a project later in the year!
Alongside the chillis are some tomatoes – I never really have much success with them but am trying again – I think the greenhouse is slightly too shady for ripening, as even early tomatoes take until the beginning of autumn to start to redden. This year I’ve popped some optimistic ‘Moneymaker’ in, plus some ‘Latah’ early tomatoes that I saved the seed from last year’s crop. The moneymaker seeds say to plant before 2007, but they came up last year so fingers crossed!
Beans and more
I have also sown runner beans, sugarsnap peas, broccoli, sprouts and both round and stripy courgettes. Last year these mostly got eaten by the supersnails but we’ve got to keep trying hey!
Flowers in the propagator
I’m starting off some flowers too – a couple of trays of lobelia, cosmos and a few sunflowers – ‘Vanilla Ice’ from Higgeldy Garden and a nice dark red one. I’ll leave off and sow more in May. I love to sow Lobelia in trays as it’s so easy to divide and pot on – I just pull a clump of soil off with the little seedlings and pop it into a new pot. Our lobelia lasted until the first frost last year. As it grows I pot it on until in a large pot, where it spills over the sides and looks amazing. It seems to do well located around the front which is in shade until the afternoon, then full sun until sunset.
Flowers in the greenhouse
I’ve planted some sweet peas in the greenhouse too – I always find they go leggy if I plant them too early, so I’ve left them until now then they can go straight out when they’re ready! I’m sure there’s a reason for them being leggy (too little light? too much light? who knows) but they grow pretty fast planted later on so no worries. I’ve also sown calendula, brachycome, alliums, rudbeckia and foxgloves in the greenhouse, as well as a hanging basket full of red clover as a bee feeding station!
When to plant out seedlings
Here in Yorkshire, we are still getting a risk of frost and night temperatures are anything from -1c right up to 8c or 9c, so I’ll wait until the risk of frost has passed – probably the start of May to be safe. I find PlantMaps has a great last frost estimator for the UK, and I’ll leave a week or so after that. It’s worth checking the dates for your location as they vary dramatically! After plants have outgrown the propagator, I’ll put the plants into the greenhouse at night and outside during the day to acclimatise. After a few days, it’s into the ground, with some fleece if temperatures are going to drop. Mostly they’re fine, until they get eaten by snails of course.
What’s flowering in April in my UK cottage garden?
The bulbs are just about to break into full riotous colour – hyacinths are out and filling the air with a wonderful smell, the daffodils are nodding in the breeze, and tulips are just about opening! There are fat bumblebees buzzing around the blackcurrant bush, and the pond plants are shining yellow joyous faces above the wriggling tadpoles. Pansies are bobbing about too, and my favourite primrose is absolutely beautiful with its dusky pink flowers. The dandelions are just coming into flower – I leave them all for the bees, and make jam from the flowers, too. I think I might do a future post about why dandelions are so great!
I’d love to know what’s flowering in your garden, or out and about where you live? If you’re in the southern hemisphere, is autumn in full swing now or are flowers and leaves hanging on?
Book Review: The Square of Sevens by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
The Square of Sevens Book Review 5/5
From the publisher:
“Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s The Square of Sevens is an epic and sweeping novel set in Georgian high society, a dazzling story offering up mystery, intrigue, heartbreak, and audacious twists.
‘My father had spelt it out to me. Choice was a luxury I couldn’t afford. This is your story, Red. You must tell it well . . .’
A girl known only as Red, the daughter of a Cornish fortune-teller, travels with her father making a living predicting fortunes using the ancient method: the Square of Sevens. When her father suddenly dies, Red becomes the ward of a gentleman scholar.
Now raised as a lady amidst the Georgian splendour of Bath, her fortune-telling is a delight to high society. But she cannot ignore the questions that gnaw at her soul: who was her mother? How did she die? And who are the mysterious enemies her father was always terrified would find him?
The pursuit of these mysteries takes her from Cornwall and Bath to London and Devon, from the rough ribaldry of the Bartholomew Fair to the grand houses of two of the most powerful families in England. And while Red’s quest brings her the possibility of great reward, it also leads into her grave danger . . .”
Although The Square of Sevens is a long read, I loved every minute of it. I’m a big fan of Laura Shepherd-Robinson and this novel is another great read. A riotous ride through the 1700’s, we follow narrator Red and her journey through the highs and lows of society, plying her trade as a cartomancer.
Previously travelling with her father, reading cards, Red becomes a ward of the wealthy Mr Antrobus after her father passes away. Red’s skills in cartomancy bring her to the high society of Bath, where she uncovers information about her family that starts her on a quest to uncover the truth. As I read on, I got the feeling that there was something else at play – things are not always as they seem!
The story moves location often, covering Devon, Cornwall, London and Bath. As the layers of the characters were peeled back, the plot thickens and I found myself grasped by who, or what was going to surprise me next. A particular highlight were the characters and dark secrets of ‘Leighfindell’ – an endless trove of gossip and potentially ruinous family affairs – as events pick up pace, the huge manor house was an excellent backdrop for it all to play out.
I loved Red as a narrator and was truly invested in the journey – every chapter brings further levels to the story and there are both wonderful and odious characters galore, which I loved! I was gripped – it’s a real page-turner. The ending was an absolute surprise to me – I think I actually gasped out loud. Brilliantly researched and full of colour, vibrancy, twists and turns, I fully recommend this as a chunky holiday read or a book to fully escape into. Loved it!
The Square of Sevens is published on 22nd June 2023.
Thank you #Netgalley for the ARC of this novel!
Birdsong and bulbs
Wow February, you’ve treated us here today in the UK. The early mist gave way to bright blue skies and the first warm sunshine of the year. The birds have been in full voice, blue tits popping in and out the next box, and I flung open the shed door to attempt to burn off some of the layer of winter mildew that has inevitably settled on every surface.
I put the lemon tree outside to sit in the sun and opened every single window as wide as it would go to let the fresh air clear out the cottage. Best of all, the sun has worked its way just high enough to shine on my favourite sitting spot. Spring is really coming along! I love to think of these days as full of birdsong and bulbs, as little green shoots begin to pop up and feathered friends begin to seek out nest locations. The magpies are beginning to tentatively return to their nest from last year – roosting on the branch just below, hopping in and straight out, playing around and around. I hope they’ll stay there again this year.
I know there will be frost to come, and the forecast shows rain for the days ahead. But this one day gives me a much-needed lift, a glimpse of longer, warmer and brighter days ahead. I’ve pottered around the garden a little this morning, cutting back last year’s teasel heads, scattering the remaining seeds on the cobbles for the birds.
The bright days lift my mood massively. I find myself dragged down by the endless grey of UK winter – at first a novelty, but after a few months it becomes a weight. I think everyone feels it, somehow – the explosion of joy that a sunny day brings in winter is quite fun to be a part of. People out and about walking, gathering, having a chat, exchanging pleasantries as they pass on the pavement or towpath. The buzz of distant DIY power tools echoing down the valley as soon as the sun comes out, even if it’s still in the low single figures. One or two bright days in the middle of the seemingly endless grey is such a treat here!
So today, I try and get as much washing done as possible to hang in the sunlight. I wipe windows and feel an urge to move the furniture around (my favourite thing to do) and generally come out of hibernation a little. Do you feel this in spring, too? We’re still part of this big, ever shifting wheel. We feel the seasons change, even now, even if we forget those parts of us long hidden.
With tea in hand, I head out to enjoy the last few rays of sunshine, and hope for more tomorrow.
My mind is full
My mind is full, and it’s ok. I learnt recently from a lecturer that they weren’t able to read any fiction books during their doctorate, because their mind was full of information for their studies. It made me think about how I’ve struggled to get back into reading for pleasure, struggled to get into doing anything, really, for the last year or so. After beating myself up for this repeated failure to get anything done, I’ve realised that’s probably happening to me, too. The reason isn’t because I’m useless, as my brain keeps helpfully suggesting. It’s because my mind is full.
When I say full, I don’t mean full of knowledge, although I wish that was the case. My memory keeps hold of any given fact for approximately 3 seconds before chucking it over its shoulder and moving on to something more shiny. Instead, my mind is grinding away in the background, forging connections and figuring things out when I’m not paying attention. I feel like I’m not doing a lot, and it’s true, I’m not – but my mind is there, munching through information for me, until suddenly I wake up and am able to add some more words to my word count, analyse some more numbers, put something across in a way that finally makes sense.
Figuring out how to work with my brain, not against it, is a whole new ball game. I’m trying to comprehend this newly discovered neurodiversity, understand how I process information (or not) and divert the tempting feeling of regret into something more powerful. I’m nearly 40 and it’s the first time I feel like I might be tentatively trying to make friends with my mind. It’s there, always full of a million things, seeing infinite connections and possibilities every hour of every day. It’s exhausting – but also exhilarating. How do I work alongside it?
I’m finally working out why I can’t remember anything that happened in the last few hours, days or weeks. Why I’ve spent three years learning a subject and can’t remember even the most basic facts about it, but I know every boyband lyric from two decades ago. Why my mind is empty yet crammed full at the same time.
The constant bit of a song or two on loop, the half-formed images that constantly replace each other, the quote from a tv show that plays round and round, the chattering, the lightening-quick overview of any problem and a million and one solutions, the big thinking and infinite ideas, but no clue how to actually start anything. Constantly losing things, but picking up on almost imperceptible information about a situation. White-hot anger and the deepest joys. It’s all still settling with me – yet I feel a kind of peace, too.
I know now that I can feed it some complex problem, forget about it, and a few weeks later, my brain will have figured it out by itself. I’ll wake up one day and suddenly, I’ll be able to do The Thing that just recently was absolutely impossible. I trust that I will be able to produce work absolute last-minute that will be, if not perfect, to a decent standard, without having to draft and re-draft and re-draft. I try not to feel bad that I have to follow the whims of my brain – if it’s not into something, then it’s absolutely impossible to force it. Funny old thing.
But brains aren’t infinite as much they feel it. It’s just recently I’ve realised just how much I’m asking mine to do. No wonder I come home and zone out watching youtube, scrolling, or floating away to the deep wub of drum and bass. That little lump of grey matter is munching through universes in the background. Studying for a PhD has upped the game, and I almost physically feel the limits. No wonder I find it hard to get anything started for this blog, much as I want to. My brain’s already pre-occupied and working full pelt.
So, I’m going to try and cut my brain-friend some slack. I’ve spent 40 years at war with it, really, when it didn’t deserve it at all – it was just a little different from the norm. Of course it was.
In those 40 years, my mind has never been empty. I never realised that you could think of nothing, or even just one thing at a time. It’s been like a 40-year rave inside my head and I’ve been like the spoilsports that call the cops and try and shut it down.
I think it’s time to learn to dance alongside it, finally, although I think I’ll also need to make sure there’s a chill-out room, too…!
Books, snails and the start of spring
The sun is streaming through the window, painting rainbows from the myriad of crystals hung from the curtain pole. Dust is dancing lazily in sunbeams, and although it’s still cold, both inside and out, I feel like spring is starting to make an appearance. One brave crocus and a single snowdrop have popped their heads up under the birch tree, the slowest start, but a sign that we are tipping over into spring. They’re a week earlier than last year so a good sign things are shifting!
It is joyously light at 5pm now here in Yorkshire. Arriving home in twilight instead of pitch black, the tantalising promise of longer days to come. This week has seen the dreary January grey give way to crisp February days. Marking Imbolc at the beginning of the month lifted that heaviness of the long UK winter for a while, at least.
I’ve been reading a little more, which has been a pleasure. Since going back to university I’ve found it very hard to have enough ‘brain’ left to be able to read anything outside the mountains of information I have to absorb for my studies. I love reading, but I only managed 11 books last year, and seven of those were the Harry Potter series I read in seven straight days when I had covid. I miss reviewing books on the blog so really want to bring that back. The lure of escaping into a book is strong at the moment!
The start of spring brings an urge to plant every single seed in the seed tin, way too early, but I’m resisting. Our spring seems to take a while to get going here, and it’s usually April really before the growing season kicks in. I’ve planted things in February before and paid the price! Last year we inherited a heated propagator which we filled with much enthusiasm, before realising it was still too cold to transplant the energetic seedlings anywhere else. So we’ll try and hold off on that too. I’ve stocked up on flower seeds from Higgeldy Garden and veg from Real Seeds, as well as some seed saved from last year – mainly runner beans and field beans- I’m really looking forward to planting!
My aim is to grow at least one vegetable that doesn’t get eaten by the mammoth snails we get here that could eat their way through a stone wall if they tried hard enough. They’re a different breed, I’m sure they have sharp teeth and muscular jaws.
The cottage rumbles on – the January rain has somehow made its way through the thick stone walls into the living room, we’re hoping due to a leaky gutter that we have had fixed, so fingers crossed it’ll dry out soon. I’ve been attempting to motivate myself to clean by making ‘cleaning caddies’ with exciting-coloured sponges and cloths, alongside various homemade cleaning potions. It’s yet to work but has been fun to put together. I feel like if I leave the caddy in the middle of the floor of the room I want to clean it’ll remind me to do the cleaning whenever I fall over it.
This week’s book is The Square of Sevens by Laura Shepherd-Robinson – I’ve just finished her previous book so was really excited to get the ARC for this one! I’ll review it over the next couple of weeks. It sounds right up my street, and a great distraction from university.
I think that’s everything. I’m off to sit in a sunbeam for a while 🙂
Book Review: South by Babak Lakghomi
SOUTH BY BABAK LAKGHOMI, 5/5
From the publisher: “South is a haunting and hallucinatory reimagination of life in a world under totalitarianism, and an individual’s quest for truth, agency, and understanding.
B, a journalist, travels to the South of an unnamed desert country for a mysterious mission to write a report about the recent strikes on an offshore oil rig. From the beginning of his trip, he is faced with a cruel and broken landscape of drought and decay, superstitious believers of evil winds and spirits, and corrupt entities focused on manipulation and censorship. As he tries to defend himself against his unknown enemies, we learn about his father’s disappearance, his fading love with his wife, and his encounter with an unknown woman. A puzzle-like novel about totalitarianism, surveillance, alienation, and guilt that questions the forces that control us.”
South is a novel that has taken me a while to process – the bleak, blunt prose is divisive and initially hard to get along with, but since I’ve finished it, my mind has filled in more and more layers. I think it needs time to digest, and it’s a novel I will definitely return to.
This dystopian story follows B, as he goes undercover to join the crew of an oil rig. The world is stark, grey and jarring. It is almost our world, yet it is not. B’s mission to write a report about recent strikes on the rig slowly falls apart, and in doing so, reveals more details about B’s past, his father’s mysterious disappearance and his relationship. As the novel unwinds, so does the structure of B’s life – the surveillance and authoritarianism of this dystopian world packs a punch against a hazy, dreamlike background.
The writing is minimal and almost harsh, with Lakghomi eschewing details that initially I wished were present. I finished the novel feeling confused and almost empty – a feeling which, on reflection, echoes the style of writing well, and is not necessarily negative. Lakghomi conjours the feeling of a world that is not just teetering on the brink of something dark but has stepped over the precipice and is now in free fall. There is a creeping, insidious sense of dystopia that lodges itself in your mind and really makes you think. It is a haunting and somewhat uncomfortable read, but that is what makes it great.
South is published on 12th September 2023.
Dundurn Press (Canada, available 15th Aug 2023)
Thank you #Netgalley for the ARC of this novel!
Hello from a dreary Yorkshire day -the cloud is hanging low down the valley, bringing a sort of quiet dampness which I love. In this weather the birdsong seems louder, the colours more vibrant against the grey background. The river runs peat brown, dark depths. I wandered up the valley earlier, just to get out the house, relishing drizzle on my skin and the lack of anybody else around.
2023 has been a funny one so far. After the tumult of last year, it sort of seems that all the pieces of me that have been flying around are settling, finally. I feel solid, somehow. I’ve been in a contemplative mood recently – the prospect of turning 40 this year has meant I’ve been looking back, in a way. My thirties have been a decade of discovery, for sure. I left a few jobs, started others, left them, picked up a chronic illness. I worked through depression and put on a lot of weight. I also got a master’s degree and started a PhD. I began therapy, properly, which has been a huge help, and still is. I’m also one of the large number of ‘older’ people, especially women, finally finding out that they are neurodivergent. It’s been a wild ride, but for the first time maybe in my life, I can say I’m beginning to know myself.
I think I’ve needed to wait until now, to start this blog properly. To feel in tune, not only with the turn of the seasons and the passing of the days, but with myself, too. I’ve always felt slightly outside of the norm, just that bit out of place, but not been able to explain it. I fought against it, maybe my whole life. But here I am now, four decades in, understanding it all finally. Sort of starting again, creating a space where I fit perfectly. I’m looking forward to not trying to be someone else for once, worrying about fitting in. I can fit into my own place, just for me.
I feel the pandemic was a turning point for a lot of us – a point where things could fall apart. Through the loss, hurt and pain, we could see the things that were really important. Our stories are personal, yet somehow shared against the same background. The world trying so hard to get ‘back to normal’ is leaving so much of that new wisdom behind. Collective trauma needs time for grief, time for recovery. Grief for loved ones, for life as it was, for the world. It’s a time to follow our hearts now. It’s time to bring change, and I feel that personally.
The sun is breaking through the cloud now, the last few minutes of golden light peaking over the fence to next door’s garden. Soon it will rise high over the rooftops, bringing heat, light, new growth, long days. Not long now. I’m being pulled back to my path, back to the wheel of the year, and I feel comfort in that. Deep roots, new growth.
So what does this all mean for this blog? It’s going to be a place to drop in and find rambling midlife thoughts, quiet places away from the shoutiness of general life, introspection, a lot of nature, growing things, and seasonal bits. Terrible crafts. Folklore, liminal places, travel, connectedness. A place that doesn’t really fit in, but welcomes everyone who also feels that way, too. We can all fit in here, together. Or fit out. Embrace the weirdness! And bring tea. Oh! And there will be books. Of course.
I’ll make a visual version of this post over on YouTube, too. Mostly I’ll just be reading it, but maybe another thought or two will pop into my head as I go?! Who knows. I really enjoy making videos, and although they’ll probably be terrible quality for now, it’s a way to gain momentum at least! You can subscribe here if you are so inclined.
Stay well, friends 🙂
A New Year
Hello everyone and of course, happy new year for 2023. It’s here, 2022 has finally faded into the distance, although I can’t help but feel I should be watching my back somehow in case it hasn’t quite left. I hope everyone is feeling ok and can look forward to the year ahead at least somewhat!
For me, it seems that the little idea-seeds I planted in my mind back at the end of October seem to be wanting to grow after a few months ‘thinking time’, so I’m here, riding the wave of enthusiasm, and hoping that those little seeds will grow into something more. It’s been a weird time in life, but amongst all of that, this blog seems to be emerging. So this post is kind of ‘watering’ it, I think!
I’m great at imagining the end product, and terrible at every step in between now and that end. I know where I’d love to take this blog and associated bits and bobs – but how to get there, I’ve no idea. I’ve made many false starts, mostly now confined to the desktop recycle bin or the great cloud in the sky. But I’m planning on sticking this one out! I have an exciting-looking mic arriving and one of those magic circular lights. After trying to squish this blog into some sort of order or shape, focusing on ‘one thing’, I gave up and finally decided to let go and just make it a reflection of myself. A bit chaotic, a bit distracted by shiny things, and a place where I’d like to hang out on the internet, too.
The mic and the light will hopefully encourage me to finally start putting my actual self out there – my short lived youtube channel for my previous blog was one of the most fun things I’ve done, so I’d like to do more of it. I’ve bitten the bullet and set up a new one for the Ginger Feather – you can subscribe here. The blog, of course, will finally start to fill up with books, things I find interesting, terrible crafts, day to day thoughts, nature, and hopefully become a nice space for people to virtually visit.
I think it’ll begin to reflect a bit of me as I expand back into a sense of self after a few years of ‘discovery’. I’ll be 40 this year and I’m rather looking forward to it – my 30’s have been a wild ride, mentally and physically and I’m ending the decade a very different person to when I started. This will be a place to settle, to explore my 40’s, to document whatever life brings.
Welcome to the Ginger Feather!
Book Review: The Revelations
The Revelations, Erik Hoel 5/5
An intellectual soup of consciousness, genius and animal testing with a suspicious death thrown into the mix – The Revelations is hard to describe, but very, very good.
After an intellectual breakdown of sorts whilst studying his previous PhD programme, Kierk is living in his car, having left the PhD programme. However, he has an offer of a place on a prestigious programme to study the nature of consciousness. Last minute, he decides to accept the place.
I was expecting to dislike Kierk, but found him surprisingly likeable, along with the other students on the course. Following Kierk’s manic thought processes is great – there is a lot of discussion of consciousness theory which I found fascinating but not overbearing, and I enjoyed the lengths he puts himself through to push his mind to the next level.
The sudden death of one of the students places the others under suspicion, along with an animal rights group that has been infiltrating the consciousness research facility. Along with fellow student Carmen, Kierk sets out to discover just what happened. The descriptions of the testing facility are very realistic and could be upsetting – I found myself clearly picturing the suffering these animals go through.
I enjoyed the slightly disconcerting atmosphere of the book, toying with our idea of reality. The ending was sudden – and I think I’m going to go back and re-read it – I imagine there are more layers to this than I picked up on the first reading! Overall I really enjoyed it – a book that challenged me and really made me think.
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(This review previously appeared on my past blog, One Empty Shelf. Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book).