#FridayReads 2022-09-23 – Halloween Bingo Week 5 – ‘Sweetpea’ and ‘Eve’s Rib’

At the start of Week Five of Halloween Bingo, I’m on schedule for a Blackout Bingo by the end of October.

I’ve read books for 11 of the 25 squares, including 6 of the 8 Called squares on my card, but I only have one complete line (bottom left to top right).

I’m only adding two new books this week because I’m going to have less reading time than normal, and I still have a book left over from last week.

I’ve picked two books that are very different from one another. One has been sitting on my shelf since I bought it, shortly after it was published, five years ago. The other was published this week and is one I’ve had on order since the end of July. One is by an English author writing about a young woman with a hunger for the release that killing brings. In a typically English way, it’s almost a comedy except that all the humour comes from a dark place where the only other option is despair. One is by a Canadian author I admire and is a thriller with a supernatural twist about a mother who believes her daughter is evil.

I’m looking forward to both books and they bring the added bonus of completing a row on my Bingo Card.

‘Sweetpea’ by C. J. Skuse (2017)

I have no idea why ‘Sweetpea’ has been sitting, unread, on my shelves for five years but I’m glad that it’s finally reached the top of the pile. At twelve hours and twenty minutes / 474 pages, it’s a longish book but, having just started it, I know I will whip through it quickly. The writing is excellent and the narrator gives a stellar performance.

The author studied at and then taught at my local university. The story is set in this area and the people feel familiar. The tone is wonderful. It reads almost like a closely observed social comedy, with the main character as a quietly unhappy loner being driven to despair by the mundanity of her life except that this quiet loner feels a strong and constant need to kill. The story is told in the first person which ought to build empathy for the character. Instead, it reveals, in a very low-key matter-of-fact way just how broken and how dangerous she is.

The humour in the book is accurate, unkind, contemptuous and soaked in anger. The violence is graphic and the main character is truly scary without being even slightly charismatic.

I know that, while this has been languishing on my shelf, the author has written two more books in this series, has two more planned and that a TV series is in the works. I suspect it’s going to make ‘Dexter’ look light-hearted and optimistic.

Any mystery/horror/supernatural/suspense book that is also intended to be humorous or funny.

‘Eve’s Rib’ by C. S. O’Cinneide (2022)

C. S. O’Cinneide’s first novel ‘Petra’s Ghost’ is a firm favourite of mine: an atmospheric, spooky, ambiguous and original thriller.

I was surprised when her next books ‘The Starr Sting Scale’ and ‘Starr Sign’ were completely different (although equally good): dark comedies about a hitwoman trying to retire but getting dragged into having to carry on killing people.

Her latest book, ‘Eve’s Rib’ looks like it’s heading back into thriller territory, this time with a strong witchy twist and an intriguing guilt-ridden mother versus evil-but-cunning daughter dynamic.

I’m really looking forward to it.

 Books which include elements that defy current understanding of the natural world, including magic, witchcraft and/or crypto-zoological aspects.

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