Hello friends! I hope you’re all well. As someone who went overboard with the request button on NetGalley recently, I’ve found myself with lots of wonderful books to read! So to help you find something to read, I thought I’d collate my reviews for these books into a 3 mini reviews. Happy reading!
Nick by Michael Farris Smith
Publication Date: February 25th 2021
‘Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby’s periphery, he was at the center of a very different story-one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I. Floundering in the wake of the destruction he witnessed firsthand, Nick delays his return home, hoping to escape the questions he cannot answer about the horrors of war. Instead, he embarks on a transcontinental redemptive journey that takes him from a whirlwind Paris romance-doomed from the very beginning-to the dizzying frenzy of New Orleans, rife with its own flavor of debauchery and violence.
An epic portrait of a truly singular era and a sweeping, romantic story of self-discovery, this rich and imaginative novel breathes new life into a character that many know but few have pondered deeply. Charged with enough alcohol, heartbreak, and profound yearning to paralyze even the heartiest of golden age scribes, Nick reveals the man behind the narrator who has captivated readers for decades.’ – Goodreads
A long-awaited follow up to The Great Gatsby… from Nick’s point of view?! I’m in. When I first read the original, Nick was a character that I grew to love/hate (I studied it for 3 years, so I’m pretty sure I know it better than any other book that I’ve read lol), so I was so excited to learn more about the character.
First off: Smith gets Nick’s voice so right. This feels like a true prequel to The Great Gatsby and he’s truly honoured Fitzgerald’s legacy in doing so. His descriptions of Nick’s experiences in the trenches during the First World War are horrific, evocative and believable. You’ll instantly be transported to 20th century France in this book.
“I once thought to write.”
“I never decided.”
Equally, when Nick returns to the US, his descriptions are just as vivid. Smith’s use of flashbacks is an incredibly clever way of adding depth to a character we already know so little about. He brings Nick to life, from apathetic narrator to a realistic man, torn by the horrors of what he has seen.
Smith doesn’t focus too heavily on The Great Gatsby in this novel either. It is truly a unique tribute to the Classic original, peppered with Easter eggs that add to the experience of reading even more. If you’re a fan of Gatsby, you have to read this book.
Also – shoutout to the cover designer for the reference to the Doctor T.J. Eckleburg billboard in the original. My symbolism-loving heart appreciated that!
Thanks to NetGalley and No Exit Press for an ARC of this wonderful book!
The Gallery of Stolen Souls by Helen Moorhouse
Publication Date: July 8th 2020
‘In 1860’s London, change is on the cards for down-at-heel photographer, Samuel Temple, when he is commissioned by the employers of the enigmatic Mrs Watson to capture a special portrait. Little does he know, however, that the subject of the photograph will spark a dark fascination inside him, one which takes his life – and many more – in an increasingly sinister direction.
In present day Dublin, Louise Lacey is drawn to purchase a beautiful old camera for her home as a symbol of change in her own life. The arrival of the antique, however, triggers strange and terrifying events and Louise reluctantly becomes aware that she is no longer alone.
As Louise reluctantly investigates the source of her haunting, she is led into danger she could never have imagined, as it becomes terrifyingly clear that she is the victim of dark obsessions, both past and present.’ – Goodreads
Haunted happenings? Check. Mysterious vibes? Check. The Gallery of Stolen Souls is an underrated release from Helen Moorhouse. When protagonist Louise impulse buys a Victorian camera from an antique shop, she soon finds herself embroiled in a spooky plot.
This book alternates between the present and the past – something that is often difficult to pull off, but I think was done quite successfully in this book. Although the characters are not as fleshed out as I would have liked, they were still relatable and made the book believable. Louise’s reaction to realising she is being haunted was quite funny – I could definitely see myself reacting in the same way.
I also found the historical chapters to be done very well! Moorhouse sets a dark kind of tone for the novel and this shows best in her Victorian characters. The plot was completely engrossing and I couldn’t put it down.
This is a truly spooky mystery – perfect for anyone looking for a Halloween read.
Thanks to Book Sirens and Poolbeg Press for an ARC of this book!
The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien
Publication Date: September 3rd 2020
‘England, 1459: Cecily, Duchess of York, is embroiled in a plot to topple the weak-minded King Henry VI from the throne. But when the Yorkists are defeated at the Battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family flee and abandon her to face a marauding Lancastrian army on her own.
Cecily can only watch as her lands are torn apart and divided up by the ruthless Queen Marguerite. From the towers of her prison in Tonbridge Castle, the Duchess begins to spin a web of deceit – one that will eventually lead to treason, to the fall of King Henry VI, and to her eldest son being crowned King of England.
This is a story of heartbreak, ambition and treachery, of one woman’s quest to claim the throne during the violence and tragedy of the Wars of the Roses.’ – Goodreads
As a huge Wars of The Roses nerd, The Queen’s Rival has been a much-anticipated book on my TBR for ages. Needless to say, it did not disappoint!
The book is told in epistolary format (with the occasional recipe and prayer!), with letters Cecily Neville sends to various people throughout her life. Although it might be difficult to adjust to the belief that Cecily would have written everything down – it’s historical fiction! So as a fictionalised account of events, I found it highly enjoyable. Moreover, because of this format, O’Brien’s style does take a little getting used to. But once you do, the book is an amazing read!
It is evident that O’Brien has put an incredible amount of time into researching the era – something that I really appreciated. Each character is developed from Cecily’s perspective – making for a unique but realistic take on such a well-known era of history.
My only flaw with this book is that I felt the epistolary format could have been broken a little bit more than it was – just to get the perspective of other characters a little more. But overall this is a thrilling read – perfect for any History lover!
Thank you to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC of this amazing book!