Woman, Eating By Claire Kohda

Publisher: Virago

Publication Date: 21st March 2022

When I heard this book had a woman in it who only ate pigs blood I knew it was a book for me. I’ve been really enjoying books about women who are ‘other’ (The Harpy, Nightbitch, Come Closer) and I had good vibes. However when it arrived and I realised it was about a vampire I was dubious. I’ve never been a fan of the vampire trope so I was a little unsure (and kicking myself that I hadn’t made the link between blood/vampire!). However, I gave it a whirl and absolutely loved it! I’m now a modern vampire fan! Who knew?

Lydia is a young woman in her early twenties. She has a Japanese father and a half Malaysian (and half vampire!) mother. Lydia’s mother turned her into a vampire a few days after she was born. The story opens at a point in Lydia’s life where she has just put her mother in a home and she has rented a studio as she is a performance artist. She has also taken an internship at a local art gallery.

But Lydia is hungry. Hungry for blood. Her and her mother have always fought their demon side and never partaken in ‘hunting’ human blood. They have always sourced pigs blood from their local butchers, no questions asked. But when the butchers closes, Lydia finds herself trying to source the pig blood from elsewhere whilst trying not to succumb to human hunting, which proves more and more difficult…..

Food, hunger and appetite are large themes in this book along with how food can connect us to our culture. There is a lot of talk about rumbling stomachs, and almost obsessive intake of social media surrounding food, for example YouTube ‘what I eat in day’ videos that Lydia likes to torture herself by watching.

I really enjoyed the half human/half demon aspect of Lydia’s character. She explains that her and her mother ate just enough to keep their human side alive and not enough to continually feed their demon side, the side which constantly had the urge to ‘sin’. They were not out hunting humans, instead they were assuaging their urges with the pigs blood. Doing their bit for society!

The book also explores the themes of connection, identity and loneliness in a fresh and clever way. There are quite a few ‘millennial struggling young women’ books out at the moment but this one is a new and interesting take which I absolutely devoured! (No pun intended!).

A brilliant debut that I would thoroughly recommend. Thank you to Celeste and Virago for my review copy.

See you all soon.

Amanda xx


Sundial By Catriona Ward – A Review

Publisher: Viper

Publication Date: 10th March 2022

‘It’s possible to feel the horror of something and to accept it all at the same time. How else could we cope with being alive?’

Well…..yet again I find myself in a situation where I’ve read an an absolute stormer of a book that I want you all to read IMMEDIATELY…BUT I can’t tell you too much about the plot because that would just ruin the experience for you! This was the case with The Last House On Needless Street (which I did manage to review spoiler free here), and Catriona Ward has done it AGAIN.

Sundial was a proof I was lusting after and when one dropped trough my letterbox I knew I couldn’t wait until closer to publication, so I read it straight away over pretty much 24 hours.

So what’s it all about?

The book opens by introducing us to a family, Rob, her husband Irving and their two daughters Callie and Annie. Annie has contracted chicken pox and this is an indication to Rob that Irving has been having yet another affair, this time with the neighbour.

There is definite tension in the family and when Rob’s 12 year old daughter Callie starts to act strangely, collecting animal bones and potentially harming her little sister Annie, Rob has to make some tough decisions.

It’s decided that both Rob and Callie will take some time away, just the two of them and go and stay at Rob’s family home, Sundial, deep in the Mojave desert.

It’s whilst here in the isolated heat that Rob confronts some deeply buried secrets from her past. A past which involved issues with her twin sister Jack and their commune-like family life at Sundial.

It’s here that I have to pause a little and consider how much to actually tell you. The chapters involving Rob and Jack’s past are complex and twisted but we get to see where Rob’s fears for her daughter originate from.

We also get to see the point that Rob first meets Irving and their ensuing relationship which enables us to better understand why there is a veil of violence and mistrust over their complicated marriage.

Catriona Ward takes you to places you never knew you could go and makes you think about things you never have before. There are times throughout the book where you think you have it nailed, but trust me you haven’t! And I don’t mean that in a glib ‘there’s a twist you won’t see coming!’ kind of way.

This story is dripping with unease, darkness and horror. There is an insidious feeling of the world being off-kilter, of the darkest of secrets beginning to reveal themselves. Once you start on this rollercoaster ride you won’t want to get off!

Having said that, it’s not always an easy read. There is violence, baby-loss, death, animal testing, domestic abuse, drug use. All the grim stuff! Maybe bear this in mind if you’re at all sensitive about reading around these subjects.

The characters are hugely flawed…..man are they! And you find yourself getting mixed up in their lies and inner demons. Trying to figure them out when really you haven’t a hope in hell!

The desert setting only adds to the ratcheting tension with its arid dryness and intense heat, not to mention it’s predators and dangers. Sundial ranch almost starts to become a character in itself.

I raced through this book and as with The Last House On Needless Street I bloody LOVED IT!

Do yourself a favour and buy yourself a copy immediately.

Thank you to Viper for my proof copy.

See you all soon.

Amanda xx

The Marsh House by Zoë Somerville – A Review

Publisher: Head Of Zeus

Publication Date: 3rd March 2022

This novel has everything I love. When I read the blurb I got a few book tingles which is always a good sign! When it arrived I pushed the 4 other books I was currently reading aside to start this one. It only took me a couple of days to read and I was gripped!

The Marsh House by Zoë Somerville tells the dual timeline stories of two women, Malorie in the 1960’s and Rosemary in the 1930’s. The book opens with Malorie arriving at a property known as the Marsh House on the edge of a marsh in Norfolk. After discovering her husband back in London has been having fun with various other women, Malorie decides to take her 8 year old daughter to the property for Christmas and to escape her troubles at home. The marsh house was first brought to Malorie’s attention after her parents die and she is left an old photograph of the house with no further explanation.

Then we meet Rosemary, a young girl living in the house in the 1930’s with just her father. She has been told that her mother is dead but there are also rumours in the village that she is infact in an asylum. Rosemary is friendly with an old woman, Janet, who lives in a cottage close by and was the person who helped bring rosemary into the world. Janey is somewhat of a local healer, midwife and nurse with some unorthodox methods which lead to much speculation.

Rosemary gets involved with the wealthy family who own Old Hall close to the marsh house and becomes enchanted by the son of the house, Franklin.

Back in the 1960’s, Malorie is struggling to settle at the house and feels an ever growing distance opening up between her and her young daughter. Isolated in snowy weather she begins to experience some strange goings on. Seeing shadows out of the corner of her eye, hearing strange noises, seeing faces at the window and hearing unsettling music.

As Malorie’s and Rosemary’s lives begin to converge, secrets are revealed and family ties are tested.

First off I love a dual timeline! Especially when they centre around one house. I love anything creepy and foreboding with a supernatural edge. I genuinely felt unsettled reading this one before bed. Zoë Somerville perfectly depicts The Marsh House so that you can see it so clearly in your minds eye. The marsh itself is almost another character, misty, damp, cold and often treacherous.

Tracking the lives of these two woman each dealing with their issues in their own times is super compelling. Both times periods are carved out perfectly and I enjoyed being in each of them with no preference (which is always a good sign).

This book is dripping in atmosphere and gets under your skin and chills your bones, in a good way! It explores, anger, madness, family secrets the treatment of women and it’s an exploration of motherhood. It is perfect for getting under a blanket with and giving yourself the chills.

Loved it!

Thank you to Kathryn and Head Of Zeus for my review copy.

See you soon.

Amanda x