There’s time for one more wrap up before the festivities hit full swing. Throughout November, I read 10 books, bringing my total for the year so far up to 115. Here are some brief thoughts on each of them, with links to my full reviews if you’d like to know more.
1. Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Younge examines the epidemic of gun violence in America, particularly at the intersection of race and inequality. By humanising the victims normally reduced to mind-numbing statistics (by presenting us with case studies of 10 young casualties who were all killed on the same random day), he lays bare the extent of the problem and why drastic change is so necessary.
2. In the Cave of the Delicate Singers by Lucy Taylor
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] There’s some untapped potential in this unsettling story about a one-woman rescue mission in a mysterious cave, but the haunting imagery really lingers in the mind. The atmosphere is suitably claustrophobic, and I enjoyed the casual queer rep.
3. Blood Bath: The Bodies Issue, edited by Katy Lennon
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Images and ideas throughout the works featured in this lit mag were suitably haunting, but with a strong emphasis on surrealism, I would have preferred a little more grounding to help drive home the thematic implications of the horrors on show. More than worth it for the couple of standout gems.
4. Mary Toft; or The Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Review to come for BookBrowse.
5. Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This experimental novella is at once the story of a young couple attempting to navigate growing tensions within their home and across the globe, and a look at the wider context of the author’s life and musings throughout the book’s creation. The craftsmanship is fantastic, with stunning use of language, but I found the reading experience too fragmented to feel invested.
6. My Name is Monster by Katie Hale
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] The heroine of this post-apocalyptic survival story believes she is the last human on Earth, and so she must readjust her entire way of life when she finds and takes in a feral young girl. Riffing on many of the themes and ideas established in Frankenstein, the novel looks at identity, belonging, the enduring nature of societal roles, creator versus creation, and surviving versus truly living. The world-building is handled incredibly well, and I found the whole thing intelligent, nuanced, and compelling.
7. The Break by Katherena Vermette
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] When a teenage girl is brutally attacked, her extended family of Métis women rally to her side. An intergeneration domestic saga, I enjoyed its look at identity, community, inheritance, the shared process of healing, and the socioeconomic conditions that can push women to turn on each other. The many perspectives lacked enough definition, however, meaning I struggled to place the large cast of characters within the wider context of the family. Still, this is a solid novel, and I can see why it attracted such glowing reviews.
8. The Forester’s Daughter by Claire Keegan
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Tension brews within an Irish family as long-held secrets rise to the fore. There’s a fable-esque quality to this brief tale which makes its inevitable tragedy and off-kilter semblance of hope all the more impactful.
9. A Keeper by Graham Norton
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Though things became a little convoluted towards the end, Norton can certainly weave a good yarn. This story about a woman delving into her deceased mother’s past eked out twists at a great pace, and I enjoyed its look at the depth of parental love, the pressures of society, the pain of living with secrets, and the idea of inheritance across generations.
10. The Ghost, The Owl by Franco, illustrated by Sara Richard
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] The story in this whimsical graphic novel felt a little rushed, but I enjoyed the overall sentiment about overcoming our differences so we can stand together against injustice. Sara Richard’s accompanying artwork was stunning, and definitely the book’s highlight.
There we have it! My favourite read of the month was My Name is Monster. What was yours?