I’ve reached that point in Lockdown where I’ve abandoned my reading challenges and set aside good but serious books. I only want to read things that will take me away from reality or, at least, my reality. I want to be entertained but I don’t want something so light that I forget it before I reach the end of the book. This Friday, I already have two speculative fiction books underway that I thought would meet those criteria: ‘Girls With Sharp Sticks’ and ‘Scarlet Odyssey’ and I’m adding the fifth book in a series that hasn’t let me down so far, ‘Hell Is Empty’.
‘Girls With Sharp Sticks’ by by Suzanne Young is about girls in an ‘Academy’ who are being taught to be ‘better girls’, obedient, respectful, compliant and pretty. It’s the story of one of the girls waking up to the fact that the Academy is not what it claims to be.
I’m about halfway through and I think it’s very well done. I especially like that, while I feel outrage at what is being done to the girls, I also recognise that it’s not that different from a finishing school curriculum from the middle of the last century.
‘Scarlet Odyssey’ a debut novel by C. T. Rwizi, scheduled for publication on 1st July, is an epic fantasy that twists the classic quest trope into something new and exciting. C. T Rwizi, who comes from Zimbawe originally is another exciting writer adding to the growing body of African Science Fiction (think ‘Rosewater’ and ‘Binti’).
In what I’ve read so far, the world-building is brilliant, the characters are diverse and original and the plot is on an epic scale.
‘Hell Is Empty’, by Craig Johnson is the seventh book in the Walt Longmire series. I’ve really enjoyed the previous books because of Walt’s laid-back style and because of the interesting set of people he is surrounded by. I also love listening to George Guidhall who is a masterful narrator with a voice as smooth as a thirty-year-old single malt.
I’ve seen some very mixed reviews for ‘Hell Is Empty’ but I’m one of those sad folks who have to read a series in order so I’m just hoping for the best.