Janu­ary Read­ing pt 1

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My goal this year is to read 100 books, but also regu­larly write small reviews of them. Here’s the first instal­ment, with Alan Garner, Seanan McGuire and Matt Weso­lowski.

Treacle Walk­er– Alan Garner

A surprise new novella from Alan Garner. Treacle Walk­er the myster­i­ous rag and bone man makes magic­al visits to a house where a young boy is home sick from school. Think DH Lawrence goes psyche­del­ic.

Where the Drowned Girls Go- Seanan McGuire

This is part seven of a series of novel­las asking the ques­tion “what happens next to chil­dren who come back from adven­tures in other worlds?” and set at a thera­peut­ic school for them. The qual­ity dramat­ic­ally varies- part four In An Absent Dream, inspired by Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market, is excel­lent, but some of the other parts are quite meh and junk foody, and don’t live up to the prom­ise of the premise. This one was inter­est­ing but frus­trat­ing.

It follows Cora, a second­ary char­ac­ter from the previ­ous books. She was bullied about her weight at her main­stream school, and escaped to a deep sea mermaid world where she was celeb­rated and valued. After events in part five she is strug­gling at the school, and asks to be sent to the Whitethorn Insti­tute, a stricter insti­tu­tion that claims to help pupils forget their adven­tures and go back to normal life.

Just when the plot star­ted build­ing up to a peak, there were suddenly 10 pages left, and it felt curi­ously unfin­ished, like half the plot is being saved for a future instal­ment. Seanan McGuire really churns out the books, under three differ­ent pen names, and from the books I’ve read I kind of wish she’d take it slower, and produce fewer, more substan­tial things, rather than briefly rush­ing through a good initial concept.

Six Stor­ies: Demon- Matt Weso­lowski

Anoth­er new part of a seri­al, this one far more consist­ent in qual­ity. The Six Stor­ies books pretend to be tran­scripts of a true crime podcast and the result­ing media cover­age. The cases explore social issues in a thought­ful way, are usually set in North­ern England, and feature super­nat­ur­al folk horror elements – think The X Files meets The Wick­er Man. This is the sixth book, and they’ve all been excel­lent.

This time it focuses on the killing of a 12 year old boy with learn­ing diffi­culties by two class­mates in a pictur­esque North York­shire village in 1995 via posses­sion, haunt­ing, plagues of flies and creepy mining kilns full of cursed stones like some­thing out of Earth­fasts. Highly recom­men­ded.

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