Here are some brief thoughts on the 10 books I read throughout May, with links to full reviews if you’d like to know more. My total for the year now stands at 52, and I look forward to seeing what books June will bring my way!
Transformation by Mary Shelley
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] A collection of three short stories by the creator of Frankenstein that is suitably gothic and thought-provoking, proving how much she pioneered the genres of science-fiction and horror.
Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This very meta book explores the language of grief, presented as an imagined conversation between a mother and her deceased son. It’s one I admired more for its intellectual stimulation than I did its narrative or emotional impact.
The Last by Hanna Jameson
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] An apocalyptic survival story, a murder mystery, and a social commentary all wrapped into one. I found the complex story utterly gripping, and yet it was elevated by a surprising amount of thematic depth and nuance.
Orkney by Amy Sackville
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Drawing on Scottish folklore, this book examines an unconventional relationship, exploring the notions of love, obsession, possession, and loss. The remote island setting is evoked beautifully, and the ending is presented in a way that invites deeper thought and discussion.
Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This impassioned collection of poetry combines mythology and personal experience to comment on male violence and the perils of motherhood, both physical and psychological. The use of imagery is bold, the language beautiful, and yet the meaning behind the words always shines through with punch.
Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
[ ⭐ ⭐ ] A thriller that uses changeling mythology to tap into our fear of not being believed, this perfectly fine read strikes a successfully ambiguous line between the supernatural and the struggles of mental health. Panning out rather predictably, however, I felt it offered nothing new in a saturated genre.
A River in Egypt by David Means
[ ⭐ ⭐ ] This short story is a snapshot of a moment, as a father awaits his poorly young son’s diagnosis. It could have been emotional and tense, but I found it too tangential, and it left no lasting impression, sadly.
My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This engrossing, heartfelt graphic novel follows a young girl’s attempts to uncover the mystery surrounding the death of her enigmatic neighbour. Through her unique perspective and singular narrative voice, we explore xenophobia, intolerance, grief, family, class divides, and homophobia.
The Haunted Boy by Carson McCullers
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] A collection of three short stories from a master of the Southern gothic. In each, McCullers deftly examines the hidden pain that many of us deal with, from the anxiety of trauma, to the sting of nostalgia, and the struggle of alcoholism, respectively. Her prose is observant and sensitive, yet highly readable, and I’m excited to pick up more of her work.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
[ ⭐ ] Catch me out here giving one-star ratings to Nobel Prize wining novels. I know this is considered highly allegorical, but I found the plot so dull, the characters so nondescript, and the prose so lifeless, that I just couldn’t care enough to bother searching for any hidden depth. I’m glad to have tried Hemingway at least once, but his style clearly isn’t for me.
There we have it! My favourite read from this batch was probably The Last, but it was a strong month overall, despite a few blips along the way. What was your favourite read in May?