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The Night Tiger – Yangsze Choo

Published February 20, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

man and walk among us…

In 1930s colonial Malaya, a dissolute British doctor receives a surprise gift of an eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy. Sent as a bequest from an old friend, young Ren has a mission: to find his dead master’s severed finger and reunite it with his body. Ren has forty-nine days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth forever.

Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker, moonlights as a dancehall girl to pay her mother’s debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir that leads her on a crooked, dark trail.

As time runs out for Ren’s mission, a series of unexplained deaths occur amid rumours of tigers who turn into men. In their journey to keep a promise and discover the truth, Ren and Ji Lin’s paths will cross in ways they will never forget.

Captivating and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores the rich world of servants and masters, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and unexpected love. Woven through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order.

What did I think?:

This review comes with an enormous thank you to the wonderful team at Quercus Books who hosted a blogger event just before Christmas where they were introducing a few exciting books coming out in 2019. I had an opportunity to snatch up a copy of The Night Tiger and even if the synopsis hadn’t given me goosebumps (which it did!) I would have been intrigued by that beautiful cover alone. I went into The Night Tiger having been familiar with the author’s work before after the beautiful journey that was her debut novel, The Ghost Bride but it had been a while since I experienced her writing style therefore this book came as a fantastic surprise. It instantly transported me into the world of 1930’s Malaya (now Malaysia) and possessed an edge of magical realism that had me entranced  with the plot development, variety of characters and the power of superstition and folklore.

Yangsze Choo, author of The Night Tiger.

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, particularly the kind that is set in a different culture and allows the reader to learn a little something about changing customs/beliefs through history that are perhaps quite unusual from their own. I’ve read a number of novels set in a similar location and time frame to The Night Tiger, just prior to the Second World War and I’m always concerned that I may tire of this particular era. However, I trusted enough in the originality of Yangsze Choo’s writing to bring something fresh and new to this period and without a doubt, that’s exactly what I got from this novel. Not only do we have a cast of stunning, interesting characters that you immediately want to know more about, but you have that fantastical element based on genuine superstitions that the populace had at that time regarding death and the importance of the body remaining whole when buried.

I adored the inclusion of the tiger in the novel who almost becomes a character in his own right. His ghostly presence is constantly used in the background to explain a series of suspicious deaths which are blamed upon a rogue tiger terrorising the community. Myth and superstition are rife and there is also a worry, especially in the minds of one of our young protagonists, that the deaths may be the result of a tortured soul able to return to our world and transform into an animal form until appeased, otherwise known as a “were tiger.”

Malaya in the 1930’s

Image from: https://specialcollections-blog.lib.cam.ac.uk/?p=10341

Everything came together in such a stunning way in The Night Tiger. The magical element of the narrative complimented the story perfectly and never felt over-done or unbelievable, helped by the fact that it was based on the actual superstitions of individuals living at that time, as I’ve mentioned. In addition to this, we have astounding characters like Ren and Ji Lin who both have their own compelling story arc and a captivating personal journey for both young people, which eventually leads to the amalgamation of their narratives and an incredibly satisfying resolution. The growth of our characters combined with what they learn about themselves and the other people they are close to is nothing short of enthralling and I loved the drama, mystery, suspense and creative nature of the entire story.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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Blog Tour – Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

Published February 7, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Death stalked the Vale.
In every corner, every whisper.
They just didn’t know it yet.

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

What did I think?:

This review comes with an extra special thank you to the powerhouse that is Quercus Books who drew my attention to this novel when they hosted a Word-Of-Mouth event for bloggers just before Christmas, showcasing the books they were most excited for in 2019. Also, many thanks to Milly Reid for accepting me onto the blog tour this week in order to promote this surprisingly fantastic book. I say surprising as I haven’t actually read any of Jo Spain’s work before and so I went into Dirty Little Secrets with very little expectations at all. I always find the best kinds of books and certainly the ones that stay with you long-term are the ones that come out of nowhere, knock you for six, have you tweeting and raving about them and then automatically recommending it to anyone who will listen. That’s what Dirty Little Secrets was like for me and I’m stupidly excited to share my thoughts with you all today.

Jo Spain, author of Dirty Little Secrets.

So what can I tell you about this book while remaining suitably vague and mysterious? It’s an absolute must read, in my opinion, particularly if you like unreliable narrators, multiple points of view, intriguing and unlikeable characters, a plot that just won’t quit coupled with a remarkably literary and focused writing style. I was genuinely bowled over by how invested I got in this story within such a short space of time and I fully believe this was purely because of the way in which the characters were written. We hear from numerous individuals around the gated community of Withered Vale who are all being interviewed about the police regarding the suspicious death of one of the members of their community, Olive Collins. None of the neighbours are particularly personable, they all appear to have their own little secrets and skeletons in the closet and additionally, each harbours a potential motive for wishing harm on Olive.

I adore a decent psychological thriller, especially one that can keep me on my toes and have me gripped throughout, constantly feeding my curiosity without giving the game away too early. Dirty Little Secrets does all that combined with a unique focus on the characters and their individual stories to whet our appetite as a reader and have us wondering exactly what might be going on here. I loved that literally ANYONE could have had a hand in Olive’s death and it left me scratching my head on numerous occasions wondering how the author was going to wrap it all up. Well, she wraps it up gloriously I assure you and I’m delighted to report that I was left in complete darkness and ignorance until the very end.

Why have I not read any Jo Spain before? How is that even possible that a talented author has been writing books like this and I haven’t even realised?! Her writing came completely out of nowhere, sucked me in and left me truly hungry to go and peruse the rest of her back catalogue. I may have been woefully ignorant of this author in the past but thankfully, that’s no longer the case and I can’t wait to get stuck into more of her work, especially if the brilliance of Dirty Little Secrets is anything to recommend her by.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jo Spain is the author of the Inspector Tom Reynolds series. Her first book, top ten bestseller With Our Blessing, was a finalist in the 2015 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller. The Confession her first standalone thriller, was a number one bestseller and translated all over the world.
Jo is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, a former political advisor in the Irish parliament and former vice-chair of InterTrade Ireland business body.
She now writes novels and screenplays full-time. Her first co-written TV show TAKEN DOWN was broadcast in Ireland in 2018 and bought by international distributors Fremantle.
Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and four young children. In her spare time (she has four children, there is no spare time really) she likes to read. Her favourite authors include Pierre Lemaitre, Jo Nesbo, Liane Moriarty, Fred Vargas and Louise Penny. She also watches TV detective series and was slightly obsessed with The Bridge, Trapped and The Missing.
Jo thinks up her plots on long runs in the woods. Her husband sleeps with one eye open and all her friends have looked at her strangely since she won her publishing deal.

Find Jo on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14190033.Jo_Spain

on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/JoSpainAuthor/

on Twitter at: @SpainJoanne

Thank you so much once again to Milly Reid and Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Dirty Little Secrets is published on 7th February 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Dirty Little Secrets on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38120306-dirty-little-secrets

Link to Dirty Little Secrets on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dirty-Little-Secrets-Jo-Spain/dp/1787474321/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1549467094&sr=8-1&keywords=dirty+little+secrets+jo+spain

Village Of The Lost Girls – Agustin Martinez

Published January 30, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A breath-taking missing persons thriller set under the menacing peaks of the Pyrenees

Five years after their disappearance, the village of Monteperdido still mourns the loss of Ana and Lucia, two eleven-year-old friends who left school one afternoon and were never seen again. Now, Ana reappears unexpectedly inside a crashed car, wounded but alive.

The case reopens and a race against time begins to discover who was behind the girls’ kidnapping. Most importantly, where is Lucia and is she still alive?

Inspector Sara Campos and her boss Santiago Bain, from Madrid’s head office, are forced to work with the local police. Five years ago fatal mistakes were made in the investigation conducted after the girls first vanished, and this mustn’t happen again. But Monteperdido has rules of its own.

What did I think?:

This review comes with a big thank you to Quercus Books who drew my attention to this book when they hosted a bloggers event just before Christmas that showcased some of the works they were most excited about for 2019. Now I’m a big fan of thrillers, especially those with a literary edge like Village Of The Lost Girls but I’m also constantly hungry to read novels that are set outside the countries that I normally associate with thrillers i.e. Scandinavian/Nordic and Tartan Noir or even those set in Germany, America and my home country of Great Britain. As a result, this novel left me with a wonderful sense of place for the remote village set in the Pyrenees with all the drama, tension and politics that living in a small community can offer, especially with a potential kidnapper in their midst.

Agustin Martinez, author of Village Of The Lost Girls.

As with all good mysteries, it’s best to go into this novel knowing as little as possible so I’m afraid I’m going to keep the remainder of this review annoyingly vague and just let you know my thoughts about the story. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think it’s going to be a book for everyone, especially if you prefer a faster paced plot. Village Of The Lost Girls is very much a slow burner of a read and instead, appears to focus much more on the study of various different characters within the community rather than what happened to the two missing girls. There is still an investigation of course, and we hear much more from specific characters like our lead female protagonist, Sara Campos and the parents of the missing girls but events occur much more slowly and deliberately than you might expect when compared to your average thriller. This isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, I feel like if you enjoy novels by Tana French, you’re really going to enjoy this but on the other hand, if you prefer your plots fast and furious, you might get a little frustrated with the pacing of this one.

Village Of The Lost Girls is set in a village near The Pyrenees mountain range.

Where do I sit with this novel? Somewhere firmly in the middle. There were parts of the narrative and characters that I absolutely loved and just wanted more from. Sara and Ana were particular favourites of mine and I was quite impressed at how well they were written from a male point of view. However, this story does involve a vast array of different characters, some of whom we learn a lot about, others appear sporadically. Normally, I enjoy a large cast of individuals in a novel but for some reason, in this story, I found it at times to be a bit too overwhelming and slightly confusing. Perhaps it was just me! As a result, I found becoming fully invested in the story as a whole a bit difficult as I constantly had to keep reminding myself who was who in the grand scheme of things.

Saying that, I really cannot fault the author’s writing style or ability to create such a stunning setting for his story just by using words. The forests, mountains and desolate environment play such a huge part in this novel and are almost characters themselves in their own right. Gradually, piece by piece, the puzzle begins to make sense but it’s not until the very end that you finally find out exactly what has been going on. I was delighted that I didn’t guess the person responsible but strangely enough, it wasn’t as big a shock as I would have hoped for. Nevertheless, there is one surprising incident that I wasn’t expecting so I was pleased that Martinez managed to pull the rug from out under me in that respect. Would I read another book by this author? Yes, I think I would for the descriptive writing style alone and additionally, I would be much better prepared in the future for a larger cast of characters.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Blog Tour – Blackberry And Wild Rose by Sonia Velton

Published January 10, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

WHEN Esther Thorel, the wife of a Huguenot silk-weaver, rescues Sara Kemp from a brothel she thinks she is doing God’s will. Sara is not convinced being a maid is better than being a whore, but the chance to escape her grasping ‘madam’ is too good to refuse.

Inside the Thorels’ tall house in Spitalfields, where the strange cadence of the looms fills the attic, the two women forge an uneasy relationship. The physical intimacies of washing and dressing belie the reality: Sara despises her mistress’s blindness to the hypocrisy of her household, while Esther is too wrapped up in her own secrets to see Sara as anything more than another charitable cause.

It is silk that has Esther so distracted. For years she has painted her own designs, dreaming that one day her husband will weave them into reality. When he laughs at her ambition, she strikes up a relationship with one of the journeyman weavers in her attic who teaches her to weave and unwittingly sets in motion events that will change the fate of the whole Thorel household.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Ella Patel for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Quercus Books for providing a complimentary copy of the novel on a recent Word-Of-Mouth Bestsellers Evening/bloggers event which showcased some of the books they were excited about for 2019. I was lucky enough to meet the author herself and her editor at the event and they made Blackberry and Wild Rose come alive in my imagination before I had the good fortune to read it leaving me in no doubt at all that this book HAD to make my January TBR. Now I’ve read it, I can see why Quercus were excited. This gorgeous, sumptuous novel is abundant in historical detail and provides a fascinating insight into the work and politics of Huguenot silk merchants in the late eighteenth century.

Sonia Velton, author of the debut novel Blackberry And Wild Rose.

Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres to devour and I always believe, must be the most difficult but rewarding niches to write within. The amount of research that has to go into your chosen time period/setting must be astronomical because at the end of the day, the reader has to feel transported to that particular place. It has to be evocative, believable and encapsulating and certainly with the historical fiction I read, I like to be able to visualise everything I’m reading about so succinctly. In Blackberry And Wild Rose, it is obvious that Sonia Velton knows her topic inside out and upside down. More importantly, she is able to produce a compelling, rich narrative that immediately captures the readers attention with some glorious, authentic characterisation that puts you immediately within the grimy, vivid and impoverished heart of eighteenth century London.

Spitalfields woven silk court dress from the 18th century.

Image from: https://www.museumoflondonprints.com/image/138334/spitalfields-woven-silk-court-dress-18th-century

Blackberry And Wild Rose is a beautiful story of two very different women, the wife of a Huguenot master silk weaver, Esther Thorel and a young woman, Sara Kemp who has been working as a prostitute since she arrived in London. Esther “rescues” Sara from the brothel and the demanding madam she is working under and sets her to work in her home as a maid, believing she is doing a good, Christian deed. Before long, we start to realise that there is a lot more bubbling under the surface for both women that will have drastic implications for the rest of their lives. I loved that nothing about either of the characters that Velton creates is black or white, good or bad. We get a unique impression of each woman along with their thoughts, feelings and potential motives for their actions. Additionally, as we get to know them a bit better, we realise that each woman has their own particular flaws that make them imperfect but, provide them with an increased resilience. They are then able to battle through their problems and focus on making a better life for themselves with minimal damage to their dignity and characters.

Set against the backdrop of the seedier side of London at this time period, I loved how this novel was a story of two halves. That is, the rich Huguenot wife who seemingly, never wants for everything and the “down on her luck” young woman who resorts to selling her body just to be able to survive. The clash of two such different women with the realisation that in fact, they’re more similar than they realise was fascinating to read and with the addition of the silk-weaving politics at the time, made for a hugely enjoyable reading experience. Sonia Velton writes with such beauty and elegance that I was delighted by this novel and certainly made a little note to myself to seek out whatever she writes in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Sonia Velton has been a solicitor in Hong Kong, a Robert Schuman Scholar in Luxembourg and spent eight years being a full-time Mum of three in Dubai. She now lives in Kent. Her first novel, BLACKBERRY AND WILD ROSE, tells the story of a fictional household of master silk weavers living in eighteenth century Spitalfields. The protagonist is loosely inspired by Anna Maria Garthwaite who was the foremost silk designer of the mid-eighteenth century and the title takes its name from an actual silk design. The novel was shortlisted as a work in progress for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2015 and longlisted for the Myslexia Novel Competition.

Find Sonia on her Goodreads page at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17154363.Sonia_Velton

or on Twitter at: @soniavelton

Thank you so much once again to Ella Patel and Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Blackberry And Wild Rose is published on 10th January 2019 and will be available as a hardback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Blackberry And Wild Rose on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36222190-blackberry-and-wild-rose?ac=1&from_search=true

Link to Blackberry And Wild Rose on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blackberry-Wild-Rose-Sonia-Velton/dp/178747075X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546941572&sr=8-1&keywords=blackberry+and+wild+rose

Introducing The Girl Who Lived Twice (Millennium #6) by David Lagercrantz – COVER REVEAL

Published November 15, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special post on bibliobeth today. I’m delighted to be involved in the cover reveal of the sixth book in the Millennium series which was originally created by Stieg Larsson before his untimely death. The first three books in the trilogy were: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. The trilogy made him second best-selling author in the world in 2008, the third novel became the most sold book in the USA in 2010, the series has sold over 80 million copies world-wide and has been adapted into major motion pictures.

After Larsson’s death of a heart attack at fifty years old, David Lagercrantz decided to continue on the series and so far has published The Girl In The Spider’s Web in 2015 and The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye, released last year.

In the sixth book of the Millennium series, The Girl Who Lived Twice, we see the return of protagonist Lisbeth Salander and although I really need to catch up with this series (Spider’s Web has been on my book shelves for quite a while now!) I can’t wait to get started. The thought that I have two books in the series to read at the moment with the next one being released next year is very exciting!

I’d love to know in the comments if you’re a fan of the Millennium series? Are you looking forward to the next book being released or are you a little behind like me and need to catch up? OR – if you’ve never read the series before is it something that interests you?

Thank you so much to Hannah Winter at Quercus books for the opportunity to share this cover reveal!

Love Beth xx

The Stranger Diaries – Elly Griffiths

Published November 14, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Wilkie Collins and MR James meet Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to the lovely people at Quercus Books, not only for hosting a fabulous Word-Of-Mouth Bestsellers Evening which I was delighted to attend with my blogger bestie, Janel from Keeper Of Pages but for kindly providing me with a copy of Elly Griffiths new stand-alone novel to check out and review prior to its publication this month. Elly Griffiths is probably best known for her archaeologist Ruth Galloway series of books that began with The Crossing Places back in 2009 and currently boasts ten books, the most recent, The Dark Angel published earlier this year and the eleventh in the series, The Stone Circle due to be released in 2019. For some reason, she’s always been on the edge of my radar, particularly this series which I know is well loved with Val McDermid herself calling it “my favourite series.” However, I just haven’t managed to get round to reading anything – occasionally when I know I already have so many books to catch up on in a crime series, it can be a little daunting and slightly intimidating!

Now I have FINALLY experienced what a great writer Elly Griffiths is, I have immediately put the first Galloway book on my wish list with a view to reading it in the very near future. The Stranger Diaries has everything you might want from a thriller, including great characterisation, an exciting and unique plot and an ending you just don’t see coming. I was instantly entranced by the mystery, delighted by the thought of a story within a story and although there were plenty of red herrings thrown in the readers way, never guessed what was really going on which came as a very welcome surprise when I reached the tantalising finale.

Elly Griffiths, pen name for Domenica de Rosa, British crime novelist and author of The Stranger Diaries.

The Stranger Diaries follows our female protagonist, teacher Claire Cassidy who teaches English at a local school and a creative writing course on the side. Currently, she is also hard at work on a biography of the famed Gothic author R.M. Holland who also shares a strong connection with the school, having a study in the uppermost parts of one of the buildings. Holland was perhaps most famous for his short story The Stranger and his tragic life when his wife fell down the very steps that lead to his study within the school, her ghost still reported to haunt the building.

The tension and terror increases exponentially when a teacher’s body is found murdered with a quote from Holland’s famous story beside her and it’s not long before the suspicious deaths start to pile up, revealing strange parallels and comparisons to The Stranger. DC Harbinder Kaur is tasked with investigating and cracking the case however her job becomes infinitely more difficult when Claire starts to find messages in her diary that she hasn’t written. More importantly, these are messages written in the same hand that wrote the notes at the crime scenes of Claire’s murdered acquaintances.

Shoreham By Sea, Sussex, England – setting for The Stranger Diaries.

When I first picked up this book at the Quercus event I was instantly intrigued by that fascinating synopsis. Notes in a diary written by a stranger? Chilling! I was overjoyed to discover once I began reading that this teaser of the situation our main character finds herself was a mere prelude to a wonderfully Gothic and nail-biting story. The inclusion of The Stranger short story that Claire teaches in her course and how it ties in with the contemporary narrative was magical to read and brought a beautiful sense of atmosphere and drama to the proceedings. The novel is told by three different characters – Claire herself, her teenage daughter Georgie and Detective Harbinder Kaur who were all written perfectly with their own separate personalities and completely believable. I didn’t particularly warm to any of them on the initial meeting but what’s wonderful about Elly Griffiths writing is that you really feel you get to know them on a deeper level as the story continues and they become more “real.”

I’m definitely not going to be fearful any more of finally starting this talented author’s other series of books, namely the Galloway and Mephisto series! Furthermore, I’m hugely grateful to Quercus for giving me the opportunity to experience Griffiths’ gripping writing in a stand-alone novel. It’s easy to see why she has such a legion of fans and I’m so pleased to call myself one of them.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

A Different Drummer – William Melvin Kelley

Published November 12, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Set in a mythical backwater Southern town, A Different Drummer is the extraordinary story of Tucker Caliban, a quiet, determined descendant of an African chief who for no apparent reason destroys his farm and heads for parts unknown–setting off a mass exodus of the state’s entire Black population.

Nearly three decades offer its first publication, A Different Drummer remains one of the most trenchant, imaginative, and hard-hitting works of fiction to come out of the bitter struggle for African-American civil rights.

What did I think?:

There are these special books that don’t come round very often but when they do, they evoke such strong feelings in the reader that makes them impossible to forget. That’s the way I’m still feeling about A Different Drummer a few days after finishing it. This is the kind of book that you finish reading and feel emotionally changed as a person. It’s also the kind of book that you instantly need to talk to everybody about to gauge if they had a similar response and you might even (if you’re like me) press it into the hands of your nearest and dearest and insist they read it too. I think I would have read this book eventually, I have become a lot more intrigued in African-American history recently but I certainly wouldn’t have read it as soon if it hadn’t been for the lovely people at Quercus Books providing me with a copy at a recent Word-Of-Mouth Bestsellers Evening and letting me know that it was “one of the most important books they would publish this year.” I wholeheartedly and passionately agree.

William Melvin Kelley, author of A Different Drummer.

A Different Drummer is Kelley’s extraordinary debut novel and was originally published in 1962. Described as a “lost masterpiece from a forgotten giant of American Literature,” this novel won Kelley much critical acclaim with comparisons rolling in to writers such as James Baldwin and William Faulkner. I don’t want to say too much about the narrative because the beauty of this novel is discovering its understated brilliance for yourself. It follows Tucker Caliban, a descendant of an African chief forced into slavery as one afternoon, he obliterates his farm suddenly and without warning and then proceeds to leave with his family in tow. This precipitates the entire black population from the town and surrounding areas to follow in his footsteps and move out and away. The reader is left with a multitude of questions – what was Tucker’s reasoning behind his actions? Furthermore, how did this inspire a whole race to follow his lead?

Although the town in Kelley’s story is fictitious, the novel is set in the American South.

This is the kind of book that sneaks up on you without you recognising the majesty of its power or the effect it might be having on you until you reach the very end. I began reading A Different Drummer and instantly admired the writing style and quiet confidence of the story-telling but initially, didn’t believe it was anything too special. I’m not sure when the switch happened in the novel for me but I don’t think it was long before I realised that I was reading something very unique and exciting indeed. We hear from the point of view of a number of different characters, across the historical period where Tucker grew from a boy into a man. Then, as we view Tucker through their eyes and sense the vicious undercurrent of racism and prejudice in the town, we begin to understand the actions that led to rising tensions for Tucker personally and eventually, the mass departure of the black population.

This is a slow-burning, deliciously literary novel that gradually assimilates piece by piece, the smaller pieces of a puzzle until we have the full, horrifying picture. It does feel languid and methodical at points but I believe that only makes the resulting climax at the finale of the book even more pertinent and shocking. There’s no big twist, that isn’t the kind of novel this is but the author is definitely not afraid to explore the darker, more brutal sides of prejudice. It really captured my attention, made me think and at many points, completely took my breath away. Quercus are right. This is SUCH an important book. It needs to be read and appreciated.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S