This week I’m starting a new monthly feature called Elizabeth Reads… Back at the start of last year, I made a promise to myself and the rest of the writerly community that I would post a review for every book I read from now on. After all, if I want people to review my books (and I do…please, pretty please) then it’s only fair that I practise what I preach. So every time I finish a book, I review it on Amazon and on Goodreads. At some point, I will investigate reviewing on other platforms too. But those reviews are only read by someone who’s on the appropriate site, and already looking at the book. So I thought I’d start putting some of them on here, too.
This month, I’m reviewing two books set in the Scottish Highlands in the 19th Century. Two great reads, and I gave both of them 5 stars.
Brilliant Literary Device: His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
It’s hard to remember that this is a book of fiction. It is presented as an historical presentation of fact, made up of witness statements, statement by the defendant, medical reports, and a recount of the trial. Roderick Macrae stands charged on three counts of murder; murders he doesn’t deny. But that’s only the start of the story; or maybe it’s the end? The atmospheric descriptions of 19th Century Highland life are stunning. This is a book that will leave a lasting impression. It is not surprising that it was short-listed for the 2016 Booker Prize; the only surprise is that it didn’t win.
Beautiful Retelling Of An Old Legend: Sealskin by Su Bristow
I downloaded this novel at an extremely busy time, but thought ‘I’ll just take a quick peak…’. Before I knew it, I was enthralled by the wonderful retelling of the Selkie legend, and couldn’t put it down. Su Bristow’s debut novel was the first winner of the Exeter Novel Prize, back in 2013, and it’s easy to see why it won. The writing is fluid, poetic and gentle; the setting is authentic and effective; and the characters are beautifully developed. Each one is flawed, each is goes through transformation during the story, and even the less obviously sympathetic ones have the reader cheering them on by the end. A great read, highly recommended.