Badger’s Book Reviews

To Be Sure by Debbie McGowan

I loved this story so much.  It felt like peering in on someone’s real family.  The characters are brilliantly drawn, and the tone of the narration carries a subtle humour throughout that makes fun of the characters the way best friends might make fun of one another.  It could be easy to become frustrated with the characters, a lot of whom need a slap(!), but for the fondness the author clearly has for her characters, which makes you fond of them too.

What I think I liked most was the fact that they all had a history, which was layered as to make them all three dimensional, interesting people, and I finished the story wanting to know much more – maybe a story set earlier…?

For real characters, emotions and humour, as well as a happy ending, this gets 9/10 or 5/5.

The Goldfish Bowl by Tim Walker

This short story was free because I signed up to the author’s mailing list, and I’m glad I did.  It was not at all what I expected, with really interesting twists and turns.  The characters were more like stereotypes than fully rounded characters, which is perhaps to be expected in order to get the point across in a short story, but the plot was something quite different, and I enjoyed it for that.

I liked that I didn’t really know how it was going to pan out, and the twists, but again, probably due to the length, I didn’t really get to know the characters well enough to care about them.  I also found myself wondering how an overweight middleaged man in a jogging suit could have teenage fans. Surely his fans would be middleaged business people who had aged with him, but, eh…

Anyway, for something a bit different, and not my usual read, this gets 6/10 or 3/5.

The Silver Feather by Joanne van Leerdam 

A very dark and creepy read that had me on the edge of my seat. It was also short, and I read it in around 45 minutes.  For such a short story the suspense was built really well, and a powerful level of emotion presented quickly and effectively.  I did not see the ending coming at all, which I always enjoy.

My one criticism would be that the “monster” was a hag, which I feel is a bit cliched and overdone. Ugly doesn’t necessarily mean bad, and it’s a stereotype we shouldn’t be perpetuating.  That said, the novel was horror, and horror has certain tropes, so I’m willing to let it slide!

For a creepy read that you can get through on your lunch break (if you dare) this gets 8/10 or 4/5.

The Blue Serpent & Other Tales by Claire Buss.

I like Claire Buss’s writing, as you may have guessed from my review of The Rose Thief, so when I was asked to review this compilation of flash fictions of course I jumped at the chance.  Flash fictions are notoriously short, but Buss manages to create thought provoking and insightful stories that have you asking questions of your life.

I was amazed by how much I enjoyed this collection, some stories made me go eeek, some made me go eurgh, and some just hit a little bit too close to home, but none disappointed.  If you like Black Mirror you’ll like this.

For flashes of genius, this gets 10/10 or 5/5.


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