About Me

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Tea-drinking introvert found either behind a book or within arm's reach of one. Book reviewer, and book sniffer. You may have seen me on W24, BooksLive, Aerodrome, Bark Magazine, CultNoise Magazine, or Expound Magazine.

29 Oct 2020

Review: The Harpy by Megan Hunter

Lucy’s world is rooted in her home and her family. A wife and mother of two young boys, hers is world of repetition, duty, and care. So, when she receives a call telling her that her husband is cheating on her with a colleague, her carefully crafted bubble bursts, and her life is turned upside down. However, there is a glimmer of hope. In an attempt to save their marriage, Lucy is granted permission to hurt her husband, three times.

As the couple begins their journey along the road to healing, Lucy cannot help but reflect on her marriage and herself, as she is slowly taken over by a desire to hurt the man she loves most in the world. As the months creep by and three strikes are delivered, she feels herself becoming unmoored, and her mind and body transforming into something bitter and sinister, fuelled by dark desires and stark realisations.

The Harpy is nothing short of a revelation. The writing is so emotional and persuasive that you feel yourself being sucked into a dark cloud, becoming feral and enraged along with the narrator. To read anything by Megan Hunter is to be drawn directly into her mind’s eye, to be given a new perspective of the seemingly mundane. Hunter’s mastery of prose is so impressive that small snippets will flit across your mind when least expected, creating a vivid second world that hides in the shadows of your own. Hunter seems to weave a spell through each penned word, snaring the reader, and shrouding us in a cocoon of wild thoughts and unchecked actions.

Megan Hunter makes me pity authors who’ve yet to develop a signature style, and her prose is so unsettling it has a nightmarish quality of the eerily unreal – I cannot give higher praise for her ability to create something astonishing out of a handful of letters. Each sentence is a gift, a flower which blooms when read. So please, read them.

The Harpy by Megan Hunter is published by Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan.    

21 Oct 2020

Review: The M Word by Brian Conaghan


Maggie Yates tells her best friend Moya everything. Well, that is – she used to, when Moya was alive. Now, the only way she can talk to Moya is through made up conversations in her head, but it’s better than nothing. Ever since Moya left, Maggie’s life has been a roller coaster with no brakes, and she’s barely holding on. Between being forced to see a counsellor and self-harming, to starting at a new college and her mum losing her job, Maggie’s not exactly having an easy time. To cheer her mother up, she’s come up with a plan: find a man to make mum smile.

With Moya cheering her on, Maggie is determined to remedy her mother’s depression, and get their lives back on track. Despite this, the process isn’t as easy or as gratifying as she imagined, and Maggie slowly starts to spiral further into darkness.

Hidden behind the cheerful cover of The M Word is an astonishingly raw world. And while it takes a few chapters for Maggie to find her voice and not sound like an older male author trying too hard to get into a teen’s head, once Conaghan finds his rhythm, you’ll be hooked. Between the angsty internal monologue of a teenage girl are a collection of profound, poignant and heart-breaking realizations that are all the more powerful for being hidden in plain sight. Maggie’s subconscious is a literal embodiment of the ogre/onion complex – we slowly peel away layers throughout the book to uncover the hidden truth held close to Maggie’s chest – all of her fears and insecurities. Most impressive of all is how relatable this character is – not for her potty-mouthed sass and sarcasm, but for her need to put up a front to disguise the battles raging within her.

Brian Conaghan has managed to hit every important note int his book, despite its shaky start. Between howling with laughter, quietly agreeing with the protagonist’s darkest fears, and crying your eyes out at her struggle, this book will put you through the emotional ringer, and it’s worth every second.

The M Word by Brian Conaghan is published by Bloomsbury, and is available in South Africa from Jonathan Ball Publishers.