I picked this up after reading about it in The Guardian, and I’m so glad I did. This is such an unexpected little book. The writing style is quite matter of fact, a little dry even, so it takes a while to warm to, but stick with it – it’s worth it. We follow a young Turkish man in Berlin between the wars. He is uncertain about himself and his place in the world, but as much as this is his story, the star of the book is Maria, the Madonna in a Fur Coat herself. Maria is determined to be herself no matter what. She is blunt in her refusal to submit to the male gaze under any terms but her own. In short, she is unexpected and amazing. Read this. You’ll quickly see why it’s seen as a rebellious book under the current government in Turkey.
Jack Sparks is a famous journalist. He’s also a drug addict. He writes journalistic exposes in the vein of Hunter S. Thompson (or at least he thinks he does). His latest book, ‘Jack Sparks on the Supernatural’ is to be his best yet. Only he dies before he can finish it. The Last Days of Jack Sparks is presented as his unedited manuscript, prefaced and footnoted by his semi-estranged brother. Jack, to put it mildly, is an unreliable narrator, and he’s a pretty unapologetic arsehole. Shot through with humour and horror (always a good combination), this was a much more interesting read than I was expecting, and I recommend it to horror fans looking for something a little bit different.
Not gonna lie, I took this out of the library based on its cover. So pretty! Happily, this is also a lovely little read. There are some negative reviews on Goodreads that say that this book doesn’t portray the Brontës accurately. This is not a book about the Brontës (thank goodness. Their lives were unspeakably dreary). It’s a book that just happens to take place in and around the area where the Brontës lived (well, not exactly, but to say any more would be a bit of a spoiler). Yuki, a young Japanese women, is in England, retracing a journey her mother took before her. We’re not sure why Yuki is following in her mother’s footsteps, and neither, it seems, is Yuki. Events unfold quietly, in unexpected ways, and the story of Yuki Chan and her mother begins to take shape. This is a story about family, about how well we can ever really know anyone, and about what binds us together. And it’s worth a read, even if Yuki couldn’t give a damn about the Brontës.
Cora wakes up in the middle of the night to find her estranged aunt Rose standing in the corner of her room. Although Rose doesn’t talk, Cora realises that Rose wants to take her somewhere. And so, without quite realising it, they embark on a journey across New York on foot. In flashbacks, we see Rose’s childhood in a group home run by a hypocritical pastor. As Cora and Rose walk, we become aware that absolutely nothing is as it seems. I came across Samantha Hunt when I read The Seas, which was a quiet book, loaded with repressed emotion and suffused with magical realism. Happily, Mr. Splitfoot follows the same pattern, though I found it darker than The Seas. Recommended to fans of magical realism, and fans of books that don’t tell you where they’re headed until they actually get there.
As I mentioned on my Instagram account, I’m not a massive fan of Robin/Dick Grayson, so reading about his first year as a superhero didn’t appeal that much to me. The stories were well done, and confronted the fact that Bruce Wayne shouldn’t be quite so gung-ho in running around Gotham with a child for a sidekick, but I was in this for Batgirl. Despite never having read any of the comics she appeared in before last year, Barbara Gordon is my hero. DC have had some terrible versions of her – versions that asked permission for everything they did. Versions that let Batman control them and their actions for very little reason. Versions that lacked agency and general kick-assery. This is not one of those versions. This Barbara initially becomes Batgirl to freak her Dad out at a costume party, but she quickly realises that she can make a real difference in Gotham and plunges herself whole-heartedly into the business of being a superhero. Batman’s not always happy at what she gets up to, and she’s not always sure she’s doing a good job, but she keeps at it with determination and verve<3 Plus, the artwork is really cool.
The story in this isn’t the worst, but the art… The art in this is absolutely disgraceful. The front cover is an excellent example. There’s Catwoman, being all bad-ass with her whip. Which has obviously excited her so much that her incredibly perky nipples are showing right through her leather outfit. There’s a lot of this. A lot of perky, physically improbable, nipples, and a lot of action shots of Catwoman on all fours, her arse splayed invitingly towards the reader. I’m actually disgusting myself typing this up so I’m going to stop.