The Terror by Dan Simmons – Book Review

A peculiar blend of historical fiction and supernatural horror, The Terror is a chilling speculation on the fate of the doomed 19th-century polar expedition led by Sir John Franklin. Though it’s not an easy breezy read at over 900 pages long, it’s a meticulously researched, deeply absorbing and deeply nightmarish tour de force.

Read more

Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush by Lael Morgan – Book Review

One of the joys of travel is finding things you’re never going to encounter at home. I spotted this book at a supermarket checkout while in Alaska, and I think it’s safe to say I wouldn’t have come across it anywhere else.¬†

Read more

Lenin the Dictator: An Intimate Portrait by Victor Sebestyen – Book Review

I was very interested to read this biography by Hungarian-born, UK-raised Sebestyen; while complete objectivity is non-existent I thought that the book provided a fairly balanced view of Lenin’s undeniably remarkable life.

Read more

The Good People by Hannah Kent – Book Review

Another novel I’ve read for our book club at work, this time a follow-up to Hannah Kent’s best-selling debut, Burial Rites, which I didn’t love anywhere as much as others did and found rather over-praised. Maybe it was the lowered expectations, but I ended up enjoying this one much better.

Kent seems to have a penchant for the grim northern settings and harsh landscapes; Burial Rites was set in an isolated Icelandic community and this book moves the action just a bit further south, to a remote valley in the 1820s Ireland. The subject matter however is entirely different: The Good People concerns itself with the Irish folklore and superstitions, particularly the fairies, or the Good People, who according to the traditional beliefs belong to neither God nor Devil but exist on their own, mischievous and unpredictable terms.

Read more