projects have got off to a flying start. From my adult list, I picked up Michel Faber's Under the Skin, which I received for Christmas. I was already a Faber fan before starting this novel, the fourth of his that I have read. And it's completely unlike the others, being dramatically different in tone and content to his more famous work The Crimson Petal and the White.
The story opens with Isserley, who spends her time driving along the roads of the Scottish Highlands, looking to pick up male hitch-hikers, but only the large, muscular ones. Apart from that, there's nothing else I could say about this novel without ruining how unexpected, different, surprising and chilling it is. There's so much I could rave about, particularly concerning Faber's brilliant use of language, but the reveal in this book is so wonderful that I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone. Just trust me when I say that it is an amazingly gripping book, one that will lodge into your brain. There's one scene in particular that I can not get out of my head, and that has made me completely re-evaluate a certain aspect of my life. Under the Skin is a book that seeks to challenge and confront, and it does so very cleverly. It's a book I will remember and think about for years to come. If you like thrillers, sci-fi, or books about ethical issues, you really need to pick this one up. 5 out of 5 stars.
Across the Nightingale Floor is best described as a crossover novel between YA and adult. It's shelved in the adult section of my library but the two main protagonists are teenagers, and a lot of the plot deals with Takeo finding out who he is and what is important to him. What I liked about the novel was that Hearn didn't shy away from darker issues or pretend that everything was always going to be OK. Death and grief are handled sensitively but straight-forwardly, without talking down to the reader at all.
I enjoyed reading Across the Nightingale Floor, as it's always good to find fantasy set in non-Western contexts. I liked reading about the belief systems of the people in Hearn's worlds, and the different approaches to marriage and politics. Although the beginning and end sections of the novel were pacy and engaging, the plot did seem to lag in the middle, and sometimes I had trouble keeping track of who was related to who, and what others thought of them, as there was much in the way of intrigue going on. Still, I enjoyed it enough to want to continue with the series. 3.5 out of 5 stars.