My Recommended Audiobooks

I love audiobooks. For me, they fill a certain niche. I listen to them when I’m walking my dog, playing video games, or partaking in any other activity that requires my eyes but not my brain. I also, unashamedly, use them to help me plough through my reading list for university (12 novels in 10 weeks is surely a challenge for anyone). I particularly enjoy using them for books I find a bit long-winded (looking at you, Jane Eyre).


I’m also aware that audiobooks can be considered a contentious subject in the literary world. Do they count as reading? Are they the same as absorbing the story with your own eyes and your own narration? My answer to both of these questions would be a resounding yes. But then I’m a millennial, and everyone knows we’re all about short attention spans and quick fixes.


So, on the back of my declaration of love for the audiobook, here is a list of my favourites. This list is based not just on the book itself, but the performance given by the narrator(s). When it comes to allowing someone else to read a book for you, this is surely one of the most important factors. My list is based off books available on Audible, just in case you were thinking of checking any of them out. I hope you enjoy!


NOS4R2 – Joe Hill. Narrated by Kate Mulgrew.

This is a brilliant book, and a valuable addition to the world of modern horror (I’ll inevitably do a review of this soon). The story focuses on Vic McQueen, a young woman who can travel through space using her bike and a mysterious bridge. She ends up using this ability to rescue her son from Charles Manx, a convicted child molester. Manx kidnaps children in his Rolls Royce Wraith and takes them to a special place called Christmasland, where he turns them into vampires and feeds of their life-force. I consider this book to be more thrilling than scary, but it is certainly brought alive by the oddly cheery voice of Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway/Star Trek, Red/OITNB).


Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection – Arthur Conan Doyle. Narrated by Stephen Fry.

Everyone (I assume) knows the stories of Sherlock Holmes in some form or another. Whether it’s from the original source material, the (frankly awful) Guy Ritchie films, or the modern TV adaptation. I’ve read the books several times before, but had to download the audiobook purely because it is read by Stephen Fry. The Audible version is a commitment, it’s over 70 hours of listening, and was around £69 last time I checked. But, with an Audible subscription, it can be yours for the low, low price of £8! How could you say no? I would recommend this for old and new fans alike, as Stephen Fry certainly knows how to bring a world alive.


Dracula – Bram Stoker. Narrated by Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren, Susan Duerden, John Lee, Graeme Malcolm, Steven Crossley.

As far as classic literature goes, Dracula is up there with the best in my opinion. Stoker’s choice to tell the story as a series of letters, transcripts, telegrams and newspaper clippings (an epistolary novel for you literary buffs) is a perfect choice for a story about a mysterious creature of the night as it highlights the questionable validity of the written word. Audible commissioned a production by some pretty big stars to bring the world to life again for a newer audience. The use of the original manuscript and different narrators certainly adds to the tension of the novel, and really works with its format. This was one of many I downloaded for university and it definitely made me appreciate the quality of the novel more than I already did.


Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood. Narrated by John Chancer.

It was necessary for me to include a Margaret Atwood novel on this list. Oryx and Crake is the first in her “MadAddam” trilogy; a series of speculative fiction novels set after the world is ravaged by a pill that makes people infertile. The first book focuses on Snowman the Jimmy, a man who bumbled his way through pre-apocalypse life and is now searching for his lost friends. The books are unusual to say the least, but show off Atwood’s power of imagination. Chancer’s performance is not the most noteworthy on this list, but there’s something about his reserved charm that made me enjoy the performance much more than reading the book.


Moonraker – Ian Fleming. Narrated by Bill Nighy.

Let’s be real here. If you’re a fan of the James Bond series, we can agree that Moonraker is not the best story. But Bill Nighy has an amazing voice. It’s like chocolate. He manages to bring the post-imperial, casually racist world of Bond alive with his dulcet tones. The series on Audible are all narrated by big names (David Tennant, Rory Kinnear, Damian Lewis), which gives listeners even more reason to visit this series again. I’ve read the Bond series countless times, and these audiobooks certainly breathe new life into them.


This is by no means an exhaustive list, and one that I’ll definitely be updating as I make my way through Audible’s catalogue. Are there any particular gems you would recommend? Let me know in the comments.



A Girl in the Spider’s Web – David Lagercrantz. A review

Is this continuation of the series up to scratch?

I’ve been meaning to review this book for a while. It’s no secret that the Millenium series are possibly my favourite books of all time, so when I found out the series was being continued I was eager to sample a new author’s take on Larsson’s intricate world.


Unfortunately, I don’t know if this book quite makes the grade. David Lagercrantz has enjoyed a similar career to Larsson, journalist turned novelist, and so in theory should be well-equipped to take the reins of the Millenium series. His first novel in the series left me wanting more, pining for the original style and content that made Larsson’s novels so great.


The story continues with the two original characters, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, picking up after the events of the third novel. We are introduced to several new characters, most notably Frans Balder, a genius computer scientist who has recently returned from the USA to reclaim custody of his autistic son. The main plot focuses on Balder’s evasion of the elusive Spider Society, a group of elite criminal hackers who are after a new computer programme Balder has designed. Lisbeth’s path crosses Balder’s during her own investigations of the Spider Society, causing her to become entangled in a web of conspiracies involving high-authority figures in the NSA. Blomkvist’s role in the plot is similar to previous books; he accidentally stumbles on a ground-breaking story involving government conspiracy, Salander and her “good-guy” Hacker Republic organisation.


Compared to Larsson’s novels, the plot feels fragmentary and confusing. We are introduced to several characters who, to some extent, feel like unnecessary additions to the plot. The involvement of the NSA was also an issue for me. One of my favourite things about the original trilogy is that they are undeniably Swedish, in setting, characters and action. Lagercrantz seems to be attempting to make the novels more accessible to an international audience. After all, everyone has heard of the NSA and in recent years (writing of the novel started in 2013) it has been seen as something of a cultural “hot potato”. However, I feel that this detracts away from the charm of the novels, and waters down their cultural identity. After all, the inclusion of the NSA in a hacking conspiracy thriller is VERY Dan Brown.


It’s not all doom and gloom though. Lagercrantz introduces us to an elusive character from the original trilogy – Salander’s twin Camilla. She is everything Lisbeth isn’t. If Lisbeth is brave and selfless, Camilla is evil and self-serving. She is able to manipulate men with her beauty, and she knows exactly what she wants from them. Considering Lagercrantz was working with an almost blank slate for Camilla, he has done a good job of building the character, and I can only hope she returns later in the series. As a writer, Lagercrantz has a solid style. The main characters are (mostly) written well, and there are some good action sequences around the plot’s climax. Hopefully this means there is some hope for the next two novels in the series.


Overall, I enjoyed reading Lagercrantz’s first outing into Larsson’s world, but I feel he could certainly improve on the quality of the story. Considering the original Millenium trilogy was presented as an unedited manuscript and published posthumously, there should not be such a massive difference in the quality of the writing for this new novel. Lagercrantz has had time. Time to edit, re-write, plan and change. So why are we left with a novel that feels more disjointed that an unedited manuscript? Don’t let my review put you off. If you’re a fan of the original series, please read it, but don’t hold it in the same high regards as Larsson’s work.

Have any of you read the book? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Short Story Writing Competition

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good summer.

A few months ago I entered a short story writing competition. The theme was hope, and the word limit was 1,000 words. I was awarded second place for my piece! I hope you enjoy.


Have Hope


He could leave him behind.

It would be easy. All he’d have to do was just get up and walk away. William would never catch him.

The paltry fire that they’d kindled had burnt out some time during the night.

He sighed, clenching his frostbitten fingers stiffly. ‘William,’ he rasped, ‘wake up.’

He half hoped that he wouldn’t. It would be easier then. But William stirred with a groan.

‘Come on, we have to get moving.’

‘I can’t, I’m too weak,’ he mumbled, his teeth chattering like the muffled echo of machinegun fire.

Alfred’s lips curled down into an ugly grimace. If William was just going to give up anyway, he wouldn’t have let him have the blanket. He looked down, measuring his own worth as a man – as a soldier… As a human being.

He rose in a moment of waning strength and laid his hands on the prostrate figure of his rear gunner, rolling him over to get at the edge of the thick woollen covering. William knew what he was doing, and said nothing. He simply looked up at him with defeat in eyes. Alfred met the apologetic stare and faltered.

He swallowed hard, his thirst riddled throat grating. ‘Come on,’ he muttered, ‘I’ll carry you if I have to. I’m not going to leave you here to die.’

William only nodded, meekly proffering his arms like an infant to its mother.

With the last of his waning strength, Alfred heaved him to a crooked stance and pushed William’s makeshift crutch against his ribs. He winced, but didn’t make a sound. He was trying dammit – with everything he had. He just didn’t have anything left.

No water, no food. Everything had been lost in the fall. What were they thinking? Sixty miles inside enemy territory. Of course there would be AA guns. Six crewman strewn across the country, lost to the white-washed tundra. The plane had gone down like a top, spinning towards the frozen earth backed by the dying scream of the engines. Alfred and William had leapt together, hand in hand, brothers until the end, but the wing had clipped William, and sent him spinning into the clouds. It was a miracle he wasn’t killed then and there, and even more of a miracle that Alfred had heard his cries before an enemy patrol. He’d found him strung from a conifer, all tangled in his own parachute cords like some mangled marionette. It’d taken Alfred an hour and a half to cut him down. By then night was upon them, bringing with it a wind that scythed through the trees and whispered of death.

Morning broke as a sick reminder of their circumstances, and there was nothing to give them any notion the others had survived. The only sign of the plane was the thin pillar of black smoke that rose into the sky over the dusted treetops. They took solace in the thought that the crash site might draw the enemy troops for a little while. Hopefully it would give them something of a head-start. They were resting their survival on might.

Progress was pitiful, and by Alfred’s reckoning, they still had the best part of fifty miles together. But they had to try, didn’t they? If they could get to the front maybe, just maybe, they could find a way to slip through and call for help. Hopefully their troops would recognise the accents, and they’d be rescued. It was all that they had to cling on to.

But then it was snatched from them. A crack, like twigs under foot, echoed through the silence of the forest. William cried out and buckled. He fell to a knee, his left leg crooked sideways at the shin. Alfred had known it was likely broken, but they had to push on. He dared not even roll up his trouser leg to look. He could see the jagged end of the bone pushing against the fabric. The crimson stain spread, black against the milky snow.

Alfred sagged backwards and sat down hard. ‘We’ll camp here,’ he said flatly.

William sobbed.

Alfred reached into his pocket and pulled out a tarnished silver case. He’d not dared light a cigarette before. His sergeant had always said that you could spot a burning cigarette from two miles off. Five in the dark. But it didn’t really matter now. Alfred was spent. All his remaining strength had been used to keep William on his feet, and now it was over. Alfred lit two and passed one to William. When he didn’t take it, Alfred stuck it between his weather-beaten lips instead.

‘Just leave me,’ he mewled, the ember dancing as he spoke.

Alfred narrowed one eye at William, took a deep drag on his cigarette, and let it out though his nose. ‘Bit late for that now.’

‘Go on, you can make it.’

‘And what, just abandon you here to die?’ He scoffed, ‘What would Christina say?’

He winced, reaching for his leg, ‘She would understand.’

Alfred laid his head back and stared into the slowly darkening sky. He didn’t want to focus on the puddle of blood that was widening around William’s leg.

‘I’ll go and get some firewood in a little bit. Let me finish my cigarette.’

‘There’s still hope, Alfred.’ William breathed softly, ‘Don’t forget that there is always hope.’

Alfred smiled sadly and looked at his brother, ‘Of course there is. There’s always hope.’

They stayed there for a while, speaking little, but saying much. And then, just before dusk, two gunshots rang out and muzzle flashes lit the undergrowth.

Two snipers, clad in grey with rifles slung over their backs, approached the snow-covered corpses and inspected them. One still had a half-smoked cigarette burning between his blackened fingers.

‘You got this one in the head,’ One said haughtily. ‘What about that one?’

‘He was already dead. Bled out from this,’ He remarked bluntly, kicking William’s broken leg.

The first one snorted. ‘Good. I’m glad he suffered. Nazi scum.’

‘You think there are any more?’

The sniper looked around and a sinister smirk crossed his lips. ‘I hope so.’

My second short story

Hello everyone!

Apologies for the long absence. One thing led to another and this blog unfortunately got put on the back-burner a little bit. Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up again now I have a whole summer of nothing ahead of me.

Anyway, here is the second piece I wrote as part of my course. I feel like I’m moving in the right direction with it, and that it’s quite a bit more emotive than my first piece.

I hope you enjoy it!


A loud crash woke him with a start. It didn’t sound good.

Arthur let out a wheeze as he put his creaking joints into motion. He prayed it wasn’t an emergency. He couldn’t move fast enough for one of those. Damn, he’d left his walking stick somewhere. He steadied himself on the door frame and braced for the next leg of the journey. It was only four feet, but right now it seemed like four miles.

He eased the door open, afraid of what he might find. He was greeted by the odour of sickness. It was a clinical smell, like the disinfectant used in hospital wards. He had always found it stifling, and oppressive. Mary was hanging out of bed in a tangle of sheets and wires, like some sort of woeful marionette. She was a sorry sight, and he felt sick with pity.

“Mary, what are you doing?” He asked, unable to hide the frustration in his voice.

“I want my nice hat and gloves. And I need some makeup. Arthur is coming home and I must look my best.”

Arthur let out an exasperated sigh. She was completely oblivious to the mess she was in. Her mind was in another time. A happier time, hopefully.

“Mary, I’m Arthur. I’ve been home a long time now.” He thought there was a flicker of recognition in her glazed eyes, but it was nothing more. “Come on, let’s get you back into bed.” It was a struggle to lift her. She was no help, merely hanging limp like a piece of wet lettuce. His arms strained with effort as he heaved her back onto the soiled mattress. He pulled the sheets up to hide the mess. He was panting. It had been too much effort. His knuckles turned white around the arms of the chair as he tried not to fall back into it.

“But you can’t be. My Arthur is young, and you’re so old. Who are you?” She eyed him warily, cautious of the stranger in her house.

He hobbled over to the dresser and found their wedding photograph amongst the discarded pill bottles. He wiped off a thin layer of dust and looked at the grainy picture. The sunlight through the trees had illuminated her dress perfectly. She looked like an angel descending from heaven. He took the photograph back over to the bed and showed it to his wife.

“Mary do you remember this? Do you remember the beautiful church, and the service? It was the most perfect day, remember?” It was a long shot, but it had worked in the past.

“No, no. You’re wrong,” she said, visibly distressed. “Arthur has been stationed away for months. He’s due home today. I must get ready for him. He would be ashamed if he saw me in my night-dress at this time of day.”

Arthur gave up. It was obviously no use this time. He had stashed a bottle of Diazepam in her bedside table for just such occasions. He loathed using them, but sometimes he had no choice. He tipped one out into his hand and snapped it in half. She only needed enough to calm her down.

“Here Mary, take this and then we can see about finding your nice gloves.”

Mary eyed the pill in his outstretched hand, cautious like a wild dog being offered a treat. “What is it?”

“Medicine. You haven’t been well, remember?”

At his prompt Mary snatched the pill out of his hand and stuck in her mouth, swallowing without water. The pill seemed to have a placebo effect, and calm washed over her almost instantly.

She looked Arthur in the eye, happier already. “I’m rather excited to see him you know; I have so much I want to say. I think you’ll like him. He’s a noble man.”

Arthur’s heart fluttered. Even through the illness she knew she loved him, as if it was innate. She relaxed back into the pillows and began to sing. It came in fits and bursts, and she was very out of tune. She used to be such a good singer.

“What are you singing Mary?”

“Delilah. I like that Tom Jones, he’s such a handsome man. I sing to the children when they won’t settle.”

Arthur smiled. At least some of her was still in there. He reached out and took her hand. She flinched at his touch. It was almost invisible, but he felt it. The smile quickly left his face again.

Her hands had been so beautiful. She had long, elegant fingers, and she had always kept her nails neat and painted. She had been so talented with her hands. She could cook and sew, as any woman worth her salt back then could. But she had also loved to paint. They used to go out into the countryside and she would paint landscapes for hours on end. He would sit and watch her, always in awe of her talent.

He remembered how she always used to rub cream into her hands every night before bed. Lily of the Valley. That had been her favourite. He could recall the smell; it had become part of her after so long. Her hands were frail now, gnarled by arthritis. Her skin was thin and translucent, like tracing paper. She was a spectre of her former self.

How much longer could they continue like this? How much longer could he care for her? He had his own ailments, but they were nothing compared to Mary. He didn’t sleep much anymore, and when he did it was his tatty old armchair. It didn’t feel right in bed without Mary next to him. She hadn’t slept upstairs for months. Not since the fall. There wasn’t room for two in her new bed, she had too many machines keeping her alive.

He had taken it all in his stride. It was his duty as her husband. What kind of man would he be if he couldn’t even care for his wife? The kids had suggested that she be taken into care so professionals could look after her. But what kind of life would that be? Keeping her body alive long after her mind had died.

Eventually it would become too much for him, and then they could waste away in a home together. No, that wouldn’t do. They couldn’t lower themselves, become dependent on other people for their basic needs. Pride prevented him from accepting help, even if he wasn’t capable any more.

Arthur sat until dusk, deep in thought. Mary had drifted off to sleep some time ago, her delicate hand still enveloped in his. He knew what he had to do.

Arthur’s joints were stiff after being sat still for so long. He slowly made his way to the small kitchen at the back of the house and fetched two mugs from the cupboard. They used to have a little tradition, a glass of warm milk in the evening. Not since Mary got ill though.

While he waited for the milk to warm, Arthur stared out the window at the dying sun casting its warm glow over the garden. Mary had taken such pride in their garden. She loved to grow flowers; carnations, chrysanthemums, tulips and lilies. Tulips were her favourite. By summer, the garden would be a sea of colour; pinks, reds, yellows, and blues. It was beautiful. It was her. Tears welled in Arthur’s eyes. He wiped them away. This is how it had to be.

Arthur took the bottle of Diazepam out of his pocket and poured the contents onto the counter. He separated out five pills, savouring the crunch of each one as he crushed them with a spoon. He tipped the powder into one of the mugs and filled it with warm milk. Then, hastily, almost as an afterthought, he crushed up the remaining seven pills and tipped the powder into the other mug. Till death do us part.

“Mary,” Arthur gently stroked her hand to ease her awake. “I’ve made you some warm milk. Sit up and drink it.”

Mary roused and sat up, meekly accepting the mug, like a baby accepting a bottle. She inhaled the warm, soothing aroma and took a sip. She looked at Arthur and surprise crossed her face.

“Oh Arthur, it feels like an age since I saw you. How I’ve missed you!” She sounded happy, relieved almost.

He felt the tears coming, and didn’t hold them back. “Mary, my love. I’ve missed you too.”

Arthur climbed into bed next to his wife. He needed to feel her warmth on his body, one last time. She took his hand. He looked into her eyes and saw something new. It looked like understanding, or acceptance.

“We’ve had a good life, haven’t we?”

“Yes my dear, yes we have.”

“I love you, Arthur.”

“I love you too.”

Recommended Reads: Roald Dahl’s short stories.

Roald Dahl is one of my favourite authors of all time. As a child I grew up reading his children’s fiction, then began to explore his adult works in the last few years. His short stories are possibly some of his best work, and at times are just pure genius.


So to celebrate Roald Dahl I have written a list of my five favourite short stories. Enjoy!


Lamb to the Slaughter

This is a fun little tale about devoted housewife Mary Maloney reacting to her husband giving her some bad news. The news is never said explicitly, but it’s safe to assume he plans on leaving her to raise their baby alone. Mrs Maloney proceeds to murder her husband, and manages to hide the murder weapon right under the noses of the investigating officers. This story is genius, pure and simple, and is one of my favourite works of fiction ever.



This is a story about a destitute ex-tattoo artist named Drioli reminiscing about a young painter supported before the outbreak of World War 1. During the flashback, both artists get very drunk and the painter is convinced to tattoo his work on Drioli’s back. Flash forward to the present, and Drioli finds himself at one of the painter’s exhibitions trying to convince patrons the work on his back is by the same artist. Several patrons then attempt to buy the work straight off his back, with Drioli finally accepting the offer of a seemingly kind man. The ending of this story is rather macabre, but possibly left open to some interpretation.


The Great Automatic Grammatizator

This story focuses on inventor Adolph Knipe looking for purpose after inventing a new mathematical computer. Knipe reasons that the rules of English grammar are governed by almost mathematical principles, and uses this theory to build a massive machine that is capable of writing award-winning novels in a very short amount of time. Knipe and his old boss go into business and attempt to buy out all of England’s successful writers. It turns out the story is written by a writer whom Knipe is attempting to buy out, and serves as a warning for any future recipients of the offer.



Set during the British rule of India, this story is set almost exclusively in the bedroom of protagonist Harry Pope. Harry believes a poisonous snake has crawled under his bedsheets and is lying on his stomach. Harry then sends his friend Timber Woods to fetch the local doctor, Ganderbai. As tension builds, Ganderbai works to try and remove the snake from Harry’s bed, only to find there was no snake there. The story then ends with Ganderbai attempting to lighten the mood by suggesting there was no snake, only to be met with Harry shouting many racial slurs. Timber attempts to diffuse the situation, but Ganderbai’s only reply is that Harry is in need of a long vacation.


Dip in the Pool

This story is set on a cruise ship that has its own betting pool, based on how many miles the ship will travel in a day. The protagonist, William Botibol, bets his entire savings on a “low pool” bid, hoping bad weather will slow the ship down. When he wakes up the next morning to find the weather is fair, William decides to cheat to slow the ship down. He decides to jump over the side of the ship so it is forced to turn around and save him. Before doing so, he makes conversation with an elderly woman whom he believes will raise the alarm. Little does he realise she is evidently suffering from dementia, and after he jumps overboard, she is not believed that a man is in the water. This is another very macabre tale from Dahl, but told with his usual dark humour.



These are my five favourite short stories by Roald Dahl, but there are so many more that are worth a read. I would recommend getting hold of several of his collected works, as there’s bound to be something in there for everyone. Thanks for reading!

Recommended Reads: Queer Fiction

Afternoon friends! I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend.


I’ve decided that after I review a book, I’ll post a list of recommended novels to try. Either by the same author or in the same genre. So off the back of my Mysterious Skin review, I’ve decided to recommend a list of Queer fiction.


Queer fiction is an interesting genre title. It is both uniting and exclusionary. By its separation in book shops it is kept away from “normal” fiction, and as a result is not explored or praised as much as it should be. Many novels that fall into the genre of Queer fiction are complex and powerful tales, and some certainly deserve more attention than they receive.


Anyway, I digress. Here is a list of five novels I have read, or am going to read, that are similar to Mysterious Skin. Enjoy!


The Great American Whatever – Tim Federle


This is award-winning author Tim Federle’s first venture into YA literature. The story focuses on Quinn, a gay teen, struggling to come to terms with his sister’s death. It follows the traditional queer Bildungsroman narrative, but in a fun and flirty way while never letting Quinn’s sexuality be the primary focus. This is a book I am very interested in, and it’s certainly placed high on my to-read list.


The Color Purple – Alice Walker


Walker won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for this novel, and it was later adapted into a film and musical. The story focuses on a group of African-American women in 1930s south USA, and addressed themes of race, class and sexuality. The book has been widely censored since its release, due to its explicit content and scenes of violence. If you haven’t read this book before, do.


Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson


This novel is a coming-of-age story focusing on a young girl called Jeanette, who attempts to understand her sexuality in a heavily religious family environment. The book is semi-autobiographical in nature, based on events from Winterson’s early life. The story is at times saddening and chilling, and while I’m not the biggest fan of Winterson’s work, I have to appreciate the concise way in which she tells her tale.


The City and the Pillar – Gore Vidal


This novel came out back in 1948 and is recognised as the first novel featuring a gay protagonist who was not killed off for their sexuality. For such a novel to be released at a time when homosexuality was still illegal is an incredible thought, and of course sparked massive public controversy. The story focuses on Jim Willard, a young man growing up in 1930s Virginia, coming to terms with his own sexuality. If there was ever a queer novel to read solely due to its historical importance, it’s this one.

gilded razor

The Gilded Razor – Sam Lansky


The Gilded Razor is a memoir of Lansky’s early adulthood, and addresses his descent from Ivy League hopeful into broken teen, by way of drug addiction. Lansky attempts to fill the void in his life with copious drugs and a string of affairs with older men, but manages to tell the story in a frank and sensitive way. Lansky manages to look into his own life and reveal common issues we all face. I would recommend this book to everyone, regardless of its applicability to your own life.


Well that’s my five recommended novels, I hope you like them. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, I’d be happy to hear. Thanks!

Mysterious Skin – Scott Heim. A review.

Mysterious Skin is certainly not a novel that is approached lightly.


Scott Heim’s coming-of-age story centres around two young boys who are connected through a life-changing event, and it explores the very different ways they are affected. Heim certainly doesn’t hold back in this novel, and chooses to explore some very dark themes in the protagonists’ journey to realise who they are.


The story begins with a young Brian Lackey being found bleeding in the crawl-space beneath his house, seeming to have lost five hours of his life. After years of strange dreams, he eventually he becomes convinced he is the victim of an alien abduction, and devotes his life to discovering the truth. The second protagonist, Neil McCormick, is fully aware of the events that led to this moment, and realises he is the only one who can help Brian deal with his missing time.


Neil is certainly the anti-hero of the novel. His life is centred around the events of his childhood, and the love he believes he has found in his baseball coach. Fast-forward ten years, and Neil, having come to terms with his sexuality, works as a teenage hustler with dreams of something more. He moves to New York with his soul-mate Wendy but eventually falls back into his old ways, landing himself in more trouble than ever. Some of the events that take place with the New York “johns” are genuinely some the most harrowing the book, and that’s saying something. Neil is a very complex character with an incredibly strong sense of agency, he knows exactly what he wants and is willing to manipulate anyone to get it. He also has a soft side however, taking his friend Eric and Brian under his wing to guide them through their own troubles. Neil is wise beyond his years, and loyal to a fault, and for me was the break-out character of the novel.


Brian however is a sweet kid. He deals with his experience by becoming introverted, and after his dad walks out on the family becomes rooted to his home town. His inability to move on from his supposed alien abduction forces him to become obsessed, eventually befriending another abductee; Avalyn Friesen. With her help Brian is able to uncover more details in his dreams, leading him to Neil. The closing scenes between the two characters are some of the most emotive I have ever read, and it is incredibly satisfying for Brian to finally find closure. Brian’s quiet obsession perfectly balances out Neil’s explosive voice, and their narratives are linked in complex and interesting ways. They are yin and yang, light and dark.


A special mention should be given to the supporting cast too; Wendy, Eric, the moms. It is with their help that Neil and Brian are brought together, and are able to move on from their traumatic childhood. Something from which they can all benefit.


I think this book can only really be summed up with my opening statement; do not approach it lightly. But I don’t say that as a warning, simply guidance. The novel deals with its themes in a mature and sensitive way, and is certainly thought-provoking literature. So if you haven’t read it, please do. And if you have read it, read it again.

Thanks for reading!