September Reading


Alex Wheatle, Liccle Bit and Crongton Knights: Liccle Bit was on the Carnegie longlist and didn’t make the shortlist; Crongton Knights, which follows it, is on the Guardian children’s longlistlist. I’ve written at greater length about these two books elsewhere–here I’ll only note that Wheatle’s invented district of London, and his invented slang for it, lead to some gorgeous prose (I’m not in a position to judge how “authentic” it feels, but it feels respectful and loving and playful in ways that other examples of making up slang often have not), that characters and the relationships between them are complicated and interesting, and that I liked both books a lot.

Chimène Suleyman, Outside Looking On: I’ve been torn about reading this for ages. On the one hand, I like what I’ve read by Suleyman in the past, and I love architecture and personal relationships with buildings; on the other, as an Indian living in Newcastle, I have both postcolonial and Northern reasons to be very tired of books about London. I didn’t love the book for the reasons I thought I might, but I suppose if people must write London-y books this is a pretty good one.

Robin Stevens, The Case of the Deepdean Vampire: This has become a tragic cycle; I buy the Wells and Wong mini-mystery, it ends too quickly, the bulk of the ebook is the first chapter of the next book, and then I have to wait months for the rest. This is a very halloween-y story (ideally it’d have been published around then, but Stevens’s christmas book is out at the end of October), and the Carmilla references are fun, but it’d be nice if there’d been more of it.

Katherine Woodfine (ed.), Mystery and Mayhem: Contains takes on various classic mystery plots by various children’s authors (all women, and I think all white)–naturally it’s a bit uneven. The Frances Hardinge (historical, murder in a hot air balloon!) was good, the Robin Stevens (contemporary, murder in a hotel) disappointing; I genuinely liked Susie Day’s locked room murder, and found Clementine Beauvais’s (also a locked room) to be too easily solved, but delighting in its prose more than the other stories did. On the whole, though, not a very satisfying collection–classic crime is inherently comforting, so it feels unfair to criticise it for doing that, and yet the whole felt lightweight.

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