The books this week have nothing in common except that they are all written by women and that they intrigued me enough to make it onto my shelves. One is by a Canadian writer who is looking at emotionally fraught issues through the dialogue between a little girl and her grandmother. One is by a British writer and is the first book in a speculative fiction trilogy with an intriguing and original premise. One is by an American writer and is the second book in a solving-crime-through-semiotics series that I enjoyed reading the first book of last year.
‘Fight Night’ by Miriam Toews (2022)
A book with a young child learning from an eccentric grandmother is either going to be wonderfully refreshing or horribly saccharine. I read the opening page and decided I was in. See what you think:
How are you? I was expelled. Have you ever heard of Choice Time? That’s my favourite class. I do Choice Time at the Take-Apart Centre, which is the place in our classroom where we put on safety goggles and take things apart. It’s a bit dangerous. The first half of the class we take things apart and then Madame rings a bell, which means it’s the second half of the class and we’re supposed to put things back together. It doesn’t make sense because it takes way longer to put things back together than take them apart. I tried to talk to Mom about it, and she said I should just start putting things back together sooner, before Madame rings the bell, but when I did that Madame told me I had to wait for the bell. I told Madame about the problem with time but she didn’t like my tone, which was a lashing out tone, which I’m supposed to be working on. Mom is in her third trimester. She’s cracking up. Gord is trapped inside her. I asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she said a cold IPA and a holiday. Grandma lives with us now. She has one foot in the grave. She’s not afraid of anything. I asked her where you were and she said that’s the sixty-four-thousand dollar question. She said she misses Grandpa. She said that by the time she gets to heaven he’ll probably have left. Men, she said. They come and they—Toews, Miriam. Fight Night (pp. 3-4). Faber & Faber. Kindle Edition.
‘A Quiet Rebellion: Guilt’ by M. H. Thaung (2018)
‘A Quiet Rebellion: Guilt’ is the kind of speculative fiction that calls to me. It offers me a new world with unfamiliar power structures, cultural norms and social challenges. It adds secrets and threats and possible conspiracies and then brings the whole thing to life by following the progress of two people who are each trying to do the right thing in their way but who each have some challenges to overcome.
I’ve read the first five chapters, which is enough to introduce the two main characters and make me curious about both of them and the world that they live in. I don’t know what’s going on yet but there are lots of hints to work with and I like the people.
I’m hoping that, as this is the first book of a trilogy, Numoeath is a world I’m going to get to spend some time in.
‘Dark Of Night’ by Barbara Nickless (2022)
I had a lot of fun reading, ‘At First Light’, the first book in this series, last year. I loved the wit, deliberately dramatic scene-setting which reminded me of a good graphic novel and the puzzle of a posed dead body showing signs of a ritual killing and surrounded by what looked like Norse runes. What truly pulled me in was Dr Evan Wilding who has graphic novel character written all over him. A British academic who has tenure at the University of Chicago where he lectures on semiotics, does falconry as a hobby, works with the Chicago police as a consulting forensic semiotician giving meaning to signs, intentional and unintentional, left behind by killers and who is also only fifty-three inches tall.
‘Dark Of Night’ slipped onto my shelves as soon as it came out in November but didn’t get to it before the end of 2022. Somehow, it didn’t feel like a Christmas read. So now I’m keen to dive back into Dr Evan Wilding’s world and follow as he investigates a murder linked to a lost treasure. I’m hoping for a larger than life adventure.