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Book Reviews: October 2023

October 1st, 2023
Children’s Books
You Choose Christmas by Pippa Goodhart, illustrated by Nick Sharratt.
Puffin Books, hardback £12.99

The You Choose books are perennial favourites of parents and children alike, and we are so excited to reveal this new, CHRISTMAS version! From choosing where to sleep on Christmas Eve, which Christmas jumper to wear, what gifts you’d like to give and receive, and what job you’d like to do in Santa’s workshop, every page offers infinite possibilities and will trigger hours of festive discussion! Nick Sharratt’s detailed, jolly illustrations are a joy to behold, and this book is sure to become an essential part of every family Christmas!
We are now taking pre-orders for signed, name-dedicated copies of You Choose Christmas ahead of Nick Sharratt’s book-signing at the shop on Saturday 4th November at 11:00.

Island of Whispers by Frances Hardinge, illustrated by Emily Gravett.
Pan Macmillan, hardback £14.99

Frances Hardinge is an outstanding writer of highly imaginative fiction written in mesmeric, beautiful prose, so imagine our joy when we discovered that her new book is illustrated by Emily Gravett, one of our FAVOURITE illustrators (and a Brighton lass!) The Island of Whispers is a stunning marriage of story and artwork, and is of novella length, serving as a perfect introduction to Hardinge’s world.
On the island of Merlank the Dead linger. A Ferryman escorts them to the island of the Broken Tower from where they can move on. When the Ferryman dies suddenly his son, 14 year-old Milo, must take the helm. Pursued by a vengeful lord and two malignant magicians, Milo must navigate strange and perilous seas where untold threats whisper in the mist. Does he have the courage to complete his urgent mission?
A dark, deep and powerful coming-of-age story touching on themes of grief, loss, resilience and kindness. Emily’s luscious pen, ink and dark-blue wash illustrations are gorgeously atmospheric, adding another dimension to the story.

Adult’s Books
Vet at the End of the Earth by Jonathan Hollins.
Duckworth, hardback £16.99

Being a vet can be difficult and varied at the best of times, but being a vet on the Falkland Islands, Tristan de Cunha, St Helena, and Ascension Island, remote and widely scattered on the South Atlantic brings a special set of challenges. From relocating a far-from-home herd of reindeer to caring for a 200-year-old giant tortoise, inspecting fishing vessels, being vigilant against the ever-present threats to the biosecurity of the islands, and dodging grumpy sea lions, there are unusual and extraordinary adventures galore.

An entertaining look at a world very few of know much about.

Night Side of the River: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Jeanette Winterson.
Vintage Publishing, hardback, £18.99

A new book by Jeanette Winterson is always a cause for celebration, and this is also a Hallowe’en treat for horror fans, being an eerie collection of ghost stories, interspersed with accounts of Winterson’s real-life otherworldly experiences, prefaced with an informative essay on the literary tradition of the ghost story, and ghostly death practices around the world. Both gloriously gothic yet unnervingly contemporary, many of the stories explore Winterson’s recent obsession with technology, the metaverse, and A.I.

Lift the veil between the living and the dead, and be spirited away to a haunted estate that ensnares a nomadic young couple in its own dark past, a staged immersive ghost tour gone awry, a West Village séance that threatens the bounds between AI and reality, and a vacation home in the metaverse where  widow meets her deceased husband….

A provocative, spooky collection, not to be read while alone in the house!

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