August 2015

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi – 3.5

I was really looking forward to this – a novel based on fairytale, by an author I have enjoyed in the past.  A girl called Boy escapes from her abusive father, falls in love and becomes stepmother to Snow, then sends Snow away following the birth of her own child, Bird.  Loosely based on aspects of Snow White, it’s also about family secrets, and learning to live with them (amongst other things).

Although it reads well, it didn’t quite hit the mark for me.  The story wasn’t traditional-fairytale enough to sustain archetypal characters, but they just didn’t have enough depth for me to believe in them as ‘real life’ people.  It was all a nice idea, but at the end of the day, it all felt a little bit superficial.  I really wanted to love it, but it left me underwhelmed.

Hotel Alpha by Mark Watson – 3

A man dedicates his life to working for the Hotel Alpha: while the world advances around him, he is determined to stay cloistered in the cosy world of the hotel.  But ultimately, the secrets that he has helped the hotel to conceal find their way out into the open, and everything will change, whether he likes it or not.

Another book with relatively likeable but disappointingly shallow characters, and secrets which are by no means as shocking as they are apparently supposed to be.  It might have been interesting to see how the characters re-built their lives (or not) after the secrets were revealed, but instead it was a fairly plodding ride to a damp squib of an ending.


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