Recently I’ve been enjoying lots of new series, such as Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series, the Death Note manga and lots and lots of Agatha Christie novels. Before I dive much further into all these new interests, I thought this would be a good time to look back over my bookshelves and discuss a few old favourites! So here are two short stories that I would highly recommend!
Boy in Darkness by Mervyn Peake
Of course this macabre tale had to feature on this list – it’s so wonderfully strange and surreal! While the hero of this story is clearly Titus Groan of the Gormenghast series, it can be read in isolation from the series and still make perfect sense. It would be an excellent introduction for anyone new to Peake. I have talked about this story in detail before so suffice to say, it’s an atmospheric, nightmarish tale, which breaks down the boundaries between humans and animals. This is a story best read on a dark night, so close the curtains, dim the lights, and let yourself be absorbed into Peake’s disturbing fantasy.
2. Please Excuse My Husband, He’s a Vegetarian by Michele Roberts
As a vegetarian, it might be surprising that I’m fond of this story, but I challenge anyone to resist this appealing dark comedy. It tells the story of a British husband and wife trying to settle into life in France; the wife manages to adjust with ease, but the husband’s vegetarian habits are rather baffling to this new society. The wife’s growing frustration is aimed not at their new French neighbours, but instead it’s her unfortunate, oblivious husband that has to face her wrath. I won’t spoil the ending, but even though I recognised some of my own awkward restaurant encounters in this story, it’s an entertaining reminder that not everyone is happy to be accommodating!
If ever he had harboured a conscience in his tough narrow breast he had by now dug out and flung away the awkward thing – flung it so far away that were he ever to need it again he could never find it. High-shouldered to a degree little short of malformation, slender and adroit of limb and frame, his eyes close-set and the colour of dried blood, he is climbing the spiral staircase of the soul of Gormenghast, bound for some pinnacle of the itching fancy – some wild, invulnerable eyrie best known to himself; where he can watch the world spread out below him, and shake exultantly his clotted wings.
My first children’s novel, titled Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting, is now available in both paperback and ebook editions! Please follow this link and start your adventure with the young sorcerer Merlin.
Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting
I am currently looking for anyone interested in reading and reviewing ‘Merlin’. I am extremely proud of this novel and want to share it with as wide an audience as possible; having positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads will help make it easier for others to find. If you are interested in children’s fiction, featuring magic, adventure and mystery, then please leave a comment, and I will be in touch with your free digital edition!
I can now reveal the cover art for my upcoming children’s book, ‘Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting.’ A massive thank you to Catherine Redgate at g00glie-eye Designs for the gorgeous artwork!
Over the weekend I participated in a highly enjoyable interview with The Book Bag, which you can find by following this link: Link to Book Bag Inteview. The first question (‘When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, what do you see?’) was really difficult to answer! I had a great time discussing my debut novel and my writing process in general. The Book Bag have also published a review of ‘A Reverie of Brothers’, which raises lots of interesting points!
R. D. Shanks is an author, book reviewer, and English teacher from Ayrshire, Scotland. She graduated from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, with a 1st in Literature in 2013. She has an eclectic taste in fiction, and her favourite authors include Mervyn Peake, Dianne Wynne Jones, Mo Yan, and Sarah Waters.
Her debut novel, ‘A Reverie of Brothers’, was published in December 2014. Her first children’s book, ‘Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting’ was also published in 2015.
These mirrors reflected back the features of the girl slouched on a stool before them. She was pale in the sickly way that was fashionable in the city, slender, and her hair, albeit lank, was long enough to sit on. It swaddled her like a light, blonde cloak. There was naught amiss in any singular component of her appearance, other than the skin being a touch too white, the lips bloodless. These minor, natural flaws did not explain why hers was but the deceptive beauty of the poisoned apple. It was not merely that she was shallow, a creature of simple malice: within her tiny skull a storm raged, hectic, vicious and vengeful. The depths of her character were murky and she herself, had she made the attempt, would struggle to rationalise her behaviour. In morals she was well-versed, for they had been imparted to her through fables as a young child, yet she could find no trace of villainy in her own actions. In her skewed world-view she was set apart.