THE DEAD LANDS
Hachette Australia, April 2015, R.R.P. $29.99
It seemed fitting to be reading post-apocalyptic event fiction about a parched city as we move officially into an El Niño event. Thankfully we will have a couple of months of respite thanks to the Indian Ocean Dipole. Not so in the Sanctuary, a fortified city once known as St. Louis. Here water is precious, the city’s wells are guarded and the contents rationed.
In this rather depressing future, most of humanity has been wiped out by what began as a rather vicious strain of influenza and ended in a nuclear missile volleying match. Continue reading
Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales – THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN
Russell Brand, illustrated by Chris Riddell
Published 9th November 2014, Canongate (ISBN: 9781782114567)
Coming off the 2015 UK general election last week, it is no difficult task to read The Pied Piper of Hamelin–the first of Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales–and connect all sorts of dot points. From the nasty Fat Bob who bares a passing resemblance to a chubby David Cameron (or possibly a thin Eric Pickles) to the suspiciously Big Ben-like town clock. Though perhaps I am reading my own interpretations into Chris Riddell’s brilliant illustrations. You’ll recognise them, if not from The Edge Chronicles with Paul Stewart, then from Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book and The Sleeper And The Spindle (review coming soon). Continue reading
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
Norman Jorgensen, illustrated by Brian Harrison-Lever
Fremantle Press, 2004
A cold morning light breaks over the muddy expanse. A deathly silence reigns but the sounds of battle linger in the ears of battle-scarred—battle-scared—men huddled around a small cheering fire in the trenches, opening their Christmas mail. Letters and parcels are distributed to a fortunate few. Some are returned to the sack to begin the race home against the official telegram to kin. Continue reading
THE SECRET WORLD OF POLLY FLINT
Published 1st January 1982
Once upon a time in the 80s, in a small public primary school in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne, I was chatting with my favourite teacher about a TV show I was watching after school—The Secret World of Polly Flint*. She went on to blow my tiny little mind when she told me that the show was based on a book, one of her daughter’s favourites, and would I like to borrow it. Hell yes I wanted to borrow it.
Published 1st March 2015, Simon & Schuster
As far as I’ve been able to determine (i.e. in the 2 minutes I spent searching on Google Scholar before my suspicions were vaguely confirmed and I got bored) cats don’t really sweat. I mean, they sweat but the majority of their sweat glands are in their paws. On those cute little squooshy pink jelly beans. So, if it’s really hot or if you and your cat have been doing a bit of cardio, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll reach down and feel the sweaty fur on the back of your cat, wild or domestic. And if you do, it’s probably a good idea to make your way to a vet quick smart.
Published 11th March 2015, Text Publishing
Ever heard the call of nature? No, I don’t mean the loo for crying out loud – trees, the countryside, that sort of thing. I’ve always wanted a little cottage with a parlour and a lavender garden and bees and enough land for a cow and a donkey and chickens and a couple of pigs. It’s not too much to ask is it? The difficulty of course is deciding what colour to paint the donkey cart for riding into town with. Have I said too much? I’ve said too much. Let’s get on with it.
Published February 2014, Text Publishing
The rise and rise of the YA dystopian novel seems to come at a time in our history when there is a conglomeration of so many real and perceived threats to our future. How do you pick which is the most frightening when there are so many to choose from: climate change and its consequences, war, disease, social catastrophe stemming from widening economic class rifts, sentient technology, velociraptors. Right here, right now – from an increase in extreme weather events, to the Crimea, Nigeria, the Levant, to ebola, to the 1%, to velociraptors, we are on the brink of something.* And maybe that’s why we are eating up dystopias like never before. Maybe those futures seem closer than ever.
Jessie Burton ISBN: 9781447250920 Published July 2014
Never judge a book by its cover – that’s the old saying, right? I’ll let you into a little secret… shh… come closer… I judge books by their covers. I know, I know, it’s terrible. It’s atrocious. It’s unforgiveable. But come now, you do too, don’t you? Just a little? Surely some of you must, otherwise why else would publishers go so out of their way to replicate the “feel” of a successful book cover to sell similar books? I don’t blame them. I’m a sucker for aesthetics and if I’ve associated a cover with a story I’ve enjoyed, of course I’ll be attracted to a similar looking book. I’ve veered slightly from where I was going with this, suffice to say The Miniaturist has a pretty cover and I fell for it. Mainly it was the ruff. I mean, who hasn’t spent their formative years wishing the full-sized ruff would come back into vogue one day? No? Just me then.