Review: The Shining Wall | Melissa Ferguson

The Neanderthal (UK: /niˈændərˌtɑːl/; Homo neanderthalensis) is the extinct species we Homo sapiens shouldered out of existence some 40,000 years ago. Melissa Ferguson’s The Shining Wall imagines their re-emergence as a servile class in a bleak future world. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of this extraordinary example of…

Strange and beautiful: From the Wreck / Jane Rawson

Speculative fiction is by its very nature strange and unexpected. Jane Rawson’s From the Wreck is both of these and more. I’d heard of the title from various book lists and reviews yet I was reluctant to pick it up given its seemingly incongruous premise: a surreal blend of historical fiction and sci-fi. The history…

Review: The North Water / Ian McGuire

The North Water is a book I suspect I’m not meant to have enjoyed. For one, it’s undeniably ‘masculine’: a miasma of semen, blood and sweat. The only women in it are whores, largely unnamed background characters that function as little more than orifices for rent. It is also a book about whaling. And I’m…

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…