Firstly, I suppose, is my own novel, which I’ve been re-reading closely whilst making extensive notes in preparation for a second draft, which I’m on schedule to start in a few days. There is much to be improved upon, from character consistencies to whole plot threads that need changing, but I’m feeling hopeful that I can fix everything I’ve found.
Without further ado, then, the first novel I read this month (or at least I think so. It could have been late last month, but who cares?) was The Loney by Andrew Michael Huxley. I’d wanted to read this for a long time, as it was consistently at the top of horror charts, although I wouldn’t describe it as such. It certainly has elements of horror, but it also has just as many feet in other genres, though I accept it’s one of those novels that’s hard to pin down to a single genre. The first thing I’ll say about The Loney is how beautifully it’s written. I found myself closing the novel on several occasions, just to revel in a particularly evocative metaphor. Huxley’s descriptive style is, in my opinion, perfect. He has a knack for painting a whole picture in a few cherry-picked words. I personally can’t stand lengthy description that goes straight out the back of my head, but Huxley gets it just right on many occasions. I loved the characters for the most part, especially of the boys and their relationship, and it was most likely this that kept me invested in the novel - and I was - because it probably wasn’t the plot. The story wasn’t bad, and I found the ending paid off, but it was rather drawn out and dilute. Overall a great read, especially for a debut novel, but it’s clear that Huxley’s strengths lie in the writing more than the story.
Most of my month’s reading was taken up by the mammoth of a book that is The Passage. I’d already read a lot of the novel before, but with the release of the final book in the trilogy, I couldn’t put off reading the first two any longer. It’s easy to see why The Passage is so successful. It’s epic, thrilling, and engaging on a personal level. I loved the world Cronin created in the second part of the novel, if it did take a while to get going what with the lengthy descriptions of everyone in town and what colour horse they have and what the horse is called, which frankly should have been cut, but whatever, I know a lot of people like that kind of expedition, though I’d rather get to the action first. At times you do have to be patient with Cronin’s prose but the overall impression is epic, and I can’t wait to get on to The Twelve and continue Amy’s story in his beautifully intricate post-apocalyptic world.
The last book I read was Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse. (See, I don’t just read Horror and Thrillers.) It’s been a few days since I finished it, and I’m still not quite sure what to make of it. It centres around one man’s exploration of his self and his place in society, ranging from deep philosophical thought to Stephen-King-esque surrealism at the end, in which I suppose he travels inside himself. It’s certainly an interesting read, the likes of which I would like to read much more, because at the end of the day the novel isn’t so much about Harry as it is the reader and their own thoughts and experiences. By which I mean it certainly makes one reflect inwardly. Hesse’s rather unbiased when it comes to the implications of the story’s events. In fact, the ending is decidedly ambiguous, but Hesse’s stance on society and existentialism is quite open to interpretation. As I said, I don’t suppose it matters. The real takeaway is in the readers’ thoughts of their own lives. As I write this now, it reminded me vaguely of Inarritu’s Birdman, which I really need to re-watch.
I also started reading Stephen King’s newest collection of short stories, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, of which I’ve read a handful of short stories, mostly pretty good, but a couple meh. Anyway, more thoughts on that next month (probably).