So….November was a bit of a fail when it came to reading, though I can’t really put my finger on why. I think I just simply didn’t feel like reading, then got ill and didn’t feel like doing much of anything. So, I read one very good novel and one…okay one.
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (2014, Oneworld)
I’m always keen to check out winners of the Man Booker prize, especially when they’re a novel that I would never have normally picked up. A Brief History of Seven Killings is the story of a group of individuals; from gang members to politicians, whose lives are all touched by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in Jamaica in 1976. James writes largely in a stream-of-concious style which makes every character a truly complex one, even when they do pretty reprehensible things. The book is incredibly engaging (and eye-wateringly violent) and really worth a read before it inevitably becomes a HBO miniseries.
The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafon & trans. Lucia Graves (2013, Phoenix)
Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one of my favourite authors. I usually love his tales of gothic mystery, so I was pretty sad that this novel didn’t quite win me over in the same way that his other work had. The Watcher in the Shadows is the final in Zafon’s young adult trilogy which was originally published in Spanish in the 1990s. It follows the Sauvelle family, who move from Paris to a rural sea town when the mother becomes a housekeeper for a local reclusive toymaker. Here, the daughter Irene falls for local boy Ismael and the son Dorian becomes fascinated by the toymaker, until tragedy strikes. The story just felt slightly too young, with the writing feeling clunkier than usual. The insta-love between Irene and Ismael also bothered me. It does just feel like this was a dry-run of concepts and even characters that re-emerge, in a much better way, in Zafon’s Library of Forgotten Books series for adults-which I’d recommend reading instead.