Lindqvist and King: Horror and catharsis

Dear Mr. Ajvide Lindqvist, I find myself wanting to see your arm, to verify if there is an ‘X’ scarring it, carved by a monster of a policeman. Seeing this scar, I think, might convince me of the existence of horrors beyond this world.   In this year of firsts, I was lucky enough recently…

Bad Romance: The Love of a Bad Man / Laura Elizabeth Woollett

Who doesn’t love a murderess? Popular culture tropes relish in the fantasy of the bitch, the fallen woman, seductress, but especially in the complete dissolution of the feminine stereotype, that notorious beast – the female serial killer. Women killers feature heavily in Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s The Love of a Bad Man. If the ratio of…

Grief, healing and horses: The writing of Eliza Henry-Jones

It’s rare that a piece of writing moves me to tears, but I’ll readily admit that in the course of reading the novels of Australian author Eliza Henry-Jones, it’s been three-for-three. These books are powerful, moving, and incredibly human. The experience began with Ache, Henry-Jones’ latest adult release. I read it travelling between Helensburgh and…

Dead girl and heron: Joyce Carol Oates

Content warning: child abuse (reference), sexual assault (reference) Before reading her work, I’d assumed Joyce Carol Oates was one of those writers who churned out weepy family sagas. As many fateful reading habits begin, I picked up Daddy Love (2013) by accident. It was an entirely disturbing read, tracking the fate of a young boy…

I adore thee: Hag-Seed / Margaret Atwood

On the rare occasion, a book sends you reeling, completely potent with possibility and a narrative that transcends the ordinary. I’ve been a fan (nigh-on Misery-level) of Margaret Atwood after reading The Handmaid’s Tale. Since then, many of her books have become all-time favourites, including the incredible Maddadam trilogy. In both of those works, Atwood mastered uniquely…

In defence of reading genre: What Dark Clouds Hide / Anne Holt

I’m guilty of book-snobbery. My guilty genre of choice is that mysterious beast known as Scandinavian or Nordic noir. Brooding, complex, ambivalent, gritty, cold and psychologically challenging, it has all the hallmarks I love to read. Scandi-noir is notably less concerned with following a crime procedural formula. Characters in these books are flawed, and the…

Review: Fun Home / Alison Bechdel

It was Tolstoy who famously opened Anna Karenina with a line about all unhappy families being unhappy in their own way. To depict this in your own family must be a confronting task. Doing it well in a graphic novel means to bare the twisted, intimate details of your life, in a self-conscious visual medium…

Mini Review: These Are the Names / Tommy Wieringa

Sometimes a book finds its way into your hands and you never quite know what to make of it. Dutch author Tommy Wieringa’s These are the Names is devastating and evocative despite – or perhaps because of – its eerily sparse writing. The novel’s dual narratives concern Pontus Beg, an aging police commissioner in the…

Mini review: The Fisherman / John Langan

Highly underrated and overlooked, The Fisherman is one of those chance treasures I am grateful to have forcibly thrust upon me by fellow reader friends. Having not read horror for some time – because it often feels like a guilty pleasure, I was intrigued to find this was a kind of literary horror that straddles…

Mini review: The Wasp Factory / Iain Banks

Another case of being late to the party, reading-wise. Although, in my defence, The Wasp Factory was published in 1984. Frank Cauldhame, sixteen years old, serial animal mutilator and multiple murderer, lives on a remote Scottish island with his incapacitated father. He has a ritualistic contraption in the attic, the eponymous ‘Wasp Factory’, and his…