Wotcha all. Here follows three short reviews of three rather good short books I’ve read recently. There will be mild spoilers – hope you enjoy
Sweetness Bled and Brindled by SL Dove Cooper
A novella that might be succinctly summarised as love’s ability to help us escape hell. Jewel is a young prince, shy and big-hearted, bullied viciously by his older brother Henry. He has rare healing abilities, which only increases the sadistic Henry’s interest in him – and probably also his contempt. Briar, the girl Jewel is in love with, is no shrinking violet – but she has her own secrets.
Dove Cooper holds little back in establishing these facts in the short word count. The resulting swings in mood from loved up to creepy abuse could give the reader whiplash in other hands, but seems perfectly natural. The result is a fast moving, action packed story that thrusts both hands at the heartstrings and yanks. If anyone’s looking for a romantic book that aims for equal amounts of sweet and harrowing, I strongly recommend picking this one up.
Resurgam by Dan Jones
Resurgam treads the line between urban fantasy and horror in a modern London tale of conspiracy, fashion, and fire. Vivienne is a science journalist who covers an event for a gossip column and, as a result, stumbles across a hidden group offering hints of undiscovered scientific advances and philanthropy. Needless to say, despite herself, she investigates.
The novella is made up of two strands; a certain amount of satiric joshing at the excesses of the London set, and a descent into the uncanny and horrifying. The former mostly takes up the start, the latter the ending. It mostly works, but it feels like the more everyday side of things could have been sharpened up. That does mean Resurgam gets better as it goes on though, which is rarely a bad thing.
For those interested – Resurgam is currently available free online here
The Armourer’s House by Rosemary Sutcliff
If the first two books have their fair share of disturbing images, The Armourer’s House is a complete counter-balance. One of the sweetest, warmest books I know, it covers the story of Tamsyn, an orphan from Devon sent to live with her uncle and his large unruly family in Tudor London. It is the tale of an outsider finding she doesn’t have to be an outsider without giving up who she is.
Honestly, I think this book might be a little too sweet, but there are definitely times when I appreciate that. Sutcliff’s gift for evocative prose is in full showing, as too her shrewdness as to the thoughts of the out of place and soul weary. No wonder she went on to such a career!
Disclaimer – Dove Cooper and Jones are both friends (and I beta’ed Sweetness Bled and Brindled); the reviews are honest opinions, but I like to declare any possibility for unintentional bias.