Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

I love the premise for this novel. Beneath the cities of Bath, London and Oxford there are mirror cities
which exist in the Nether. This is the world between our 'real' world, and the land of Fae. It is a 'Fae-touched society'. Its inhabitants are ruled by the Fae, and once they reach adulthood rarely, if ever, enter our world (which they call Mundanus).
The heroine of the book, Cathy, is a member of one of the most prominent families in Aquae Sulis, which is the mirror city of Bath. She is stifled by her life there, the social rules and etiquette are of the Regency era and it is impossible for a woman to have independence. So she has run away into Mundanus and has spent three years at university in Manchester. However she has been discovered.
At the same time strange events are taking place in Aquae Sulis. One of their most important citizens has gone missing. There are a group of people called the Arbiters whose job it is to police between the Nether and Mundanus. An Arbiter named Max has to find this man, the Master of Ceremonies. Max's sidekick is a stone gargoyle come to life, which I think is a most wonderful thing.
This is a perfectly imagined world. It is pretty and also threatening. I was completely caught up in it. This is the first in a trilogy and I believe the second book has just been published. I can't wait to read it.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I had heard wonderful things about this book and couldn't wait to start reading. I absolutely was not
disappointed. I raced through it and couldn't wait to get back to it whenever I had to put it down.

In February 1910 Ursula Todd is born. There is a terrible snowstorm, the doctor can't get through and Ursula dies. Then the story resets - it's February 1910 again, Ursula is born, this time the doctor does get through and Ursula lives. And so it goes on through the novel. Ursula's life is reset each time she dies and she gets a chance to do things differently.

She doesn't know that this is happening to her, though when she's a child she does have a sense that there is something different about her. The family's maid, Bridget, says that she has the second sight. Throughout her life (lives) she has premonitions which she can't explain. Some of the things which happen to her are small and personal, other times her life is impacted by great global events. There was one period in Ursula's life which was so bad that I was longing for her to die, which is an unusual feeling to have about the heroine of a book.

I loved this book. I haven't read much by Kate Atkinson (though I am really enjoying Case Histories on tv) and will be searching out more books by her.