Category Archives: Books

How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman


How the Marquis Got His Coat Back
How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A short novella. Story wise, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Minor spoilers in the review below. You do need to have read Neverwhere before reading this follow on, as it happens concurrent to the events in that book.

The Marquis, during the plot of Neverwhere, is relieved of his precious coat. Croup and Vandemar essentially kill our Marquis, and dispose of his body. Luckily, the Marquis had a back up plan, and he can therefore continue in his quest and get his coat back! And also, eventually return to his responsibilities in the main story of Neverwhere.

A very enjoyable reminder of the world of London Below, the sewer people, the rat people, and all of the other varied inhabitants of that other world.

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


Gone Girl
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well those two were both thoroughly unlikeable characters! When Amy Dunne goes missing, her husband Nick is at first regarded as a confused, traumatised spouse who is stunned by her disappearance. Later he is accused of first her disappearance, and then her murder. From Amy’s diaries, she appears to have been fearful of her husband in the prior 12 months leading up to her going missing. Both Nick and Amy are journalists/authors themselves, and as it turns out, parts of their life and recollections are complete fiction. You don’t know who’s telling the truth, or who’s making it up to make it sound good (or indeed bad).

This book is written in diary form, from the alternating perspectives of Amy and Nick. It’s not my most favourite form of novel, I prefer those written in prose… Gillian Flynn is excellent at creating characters which evoke a connection and emotional response from the reader, even if that emotion is disgust and dislike! Not all fictional characters should be loveable, of course. With enough twists and turns to keep you interested (unless you’ve already seen the movie!) the story warps from chapter to chapter. As more information is revealed and you begin to understand the motives and personalities of the two main characters, you begin to think.. “what a bunch of arseholes”!

Thank goodness I don’t know anyone in real life like these two. As far as I know…!

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As relevant now as it was when it was first published, perhaps more so, given the current state of the media. Some slight SPOILERS are contained in my review, below.

When reading is outlawed and the only form of entertainment appears to be some sort of augmented-reality/reality-TV show (which seems like the most dire thing ever conceived!); Guy Montag is a firemen, whose job description is no longer to put out fires, but start them to get rid of the contraband books.

Guy is married to a woman he barely talks to (who spends her life in/watching her “show”), he works with a group of men he barely knows, because both written and verbal communication has become universally stifled; at least about anything worthwhile. Inane banter still occurs. When Guy bumps into Clarisse McClellan on his way home from work, who was out for a walk (also something not done any more), she begins to open his mind to new ideas and to actually pay attention to the world around him. Later, after losing Clarisse, he begins to question what is really so bad about the books he’s burning. Once he starts to turn the page of the books, he turns a page in his life. But then becomes a wanted man. Finally, he seeks refuge with a group of people he stumbles across who are themselves attempting to preserve the literature in the only way left to them… their memories.

The points of view of many of the characters within this novel seem quite harsh and right-wing (of course, that’s the point), but it’s scary to think how close we are to large groups of people being told how “bad” something is, seeing an article of “fake news” online, believing it all to be true at face-value and being completely unable to grasp any other side of the argument. This is how propaganda, government-backed-lies, and fascism starts; by telling you something that you “sort of thought might be true, but wasn’t sure” and then becoming convinced that you’ve been right all along, that “those people you were afraid of” for no reason are really very scary..

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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman


Neverwhere
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Neil Gaiman writes as though he’s telling a child’s fairy tale. No matter how grotesque or violent the events depicted within the story are, the language used seems to make it seem (almost) OK. I suppose actually the original old fairy tales were actually quite nasty before Disney started making sanitised versions!

Richard Mayhew stops to help an injured girl on the street of London, but she’s not from London Above, she’s from London Below. When you’ve been exposed to London Below, the people from Above don’t even notice you, let alone recognise you; you’ve slipped through the cracks, and fall down into the underside of the city. A place where you might actually meet the Earl of Earl’s Court, the Blackfriars, and maybe even the Angel Islington. The girl, Door, is on the run from a variety of unsavoury characters, in particular Mr Croup and Mr Vandermar, the assassins who murdered her family. But why? And who is their employer? Richard tags along with Door, the Marquis de Carabas, and a whole host of colourful characters, in the hope that he can find a way to get back to his old life.

Having previously heard the BBC Radio 4 production of this book, I’ve wanted to properly read this for ages. The radio play did a really good job adapting this book, and both the written and audio versions work really well. Very little was left out of the radio adaptation, and yet the book still is full of detail that can only be hinted at through other formats. It’s a gripping narrative, and showcases all of London, at it’s best and worst. One of Neil Gaiman’s best (and they’re all good!).

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The Adventure of the Copper Beeches by Arthur Conan Doyle


The Adventure of the Copper Beeches
The Adventure of the Copper Beeches by Arthur Conan Doyle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A governess who has been struggling to find work is suddenly provided with a too-good-to-be-true offer by a corpulent gentleman and his wife, who have some strange requests for her behaviour. Is her new employer hiding something? Yes, they are. Obviously.

Another short story which has Sherlock solving the case by simply disproving a number of theories that he had come up with prior to even leaving Baker St., leaving the one remaining solution.

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