Author: Mary-Ann Constantine
Monday, 31 October 2016
Author: Mary-Ann Constantine
Genre: Magic Realism*, Sci-Fi* (*ish)
A few starting notes:
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers, Seren Books, in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Well dearest nerdlets, today is my 2-year blog anniversary!
And, to celebrate, Welsh publishers Seren Books (Seren means star - yay, shiny!) have agreed to give-away 1 copy of Star-Shot by Mary-Ann Constantine.
So let's get on with this!
In a version of the Welsh capital that is almost, but not quite, our own, something strange is happening in the city of Cardiff.
Pockets of silence are appearing - areas which seem to muffle, mute, and eliminate sound.
Against this backdrop, the winding nature of everyday life draws a group of people together; an unlikely group, who are, in one way and another, affected by the silence - can they also have an effect on it?
This whole book has an uber-cool atmospheric deal-y going on; like a fable or a myth, only with more of a contemporary setting, and it works very well. :)
I quite like the quick slips between Welsh and English.
This switch between the two is done well enough that non-Welsh-speaking folks will be able to follow without taking an intensive language course, but it still allows Welsh to have a place in what is otherwise an English novel.
The sense that this is a novel weaved together so that it fits as it's supposed to is strong throughout, and the language is languid and gentle without verging on boring.
I also love the way a multi-character cast is juggled so well here, never forgetting about anyone along the way.
And is there diversity? Yes, my nerdlets, there is.
We have named PoC characters who become more integral as we continue through the plot, and we also have a fair whack of disability representation on top.
I love that Lina, a Syrian refugee, is smart, clever, resourceful, and a scientist, despite the fact that she works as a cleaner in Cardiff.
And, I won't give it away because of spoilers, but there's a pretty damn good message here too.
Not so great bits:
None of the dialogue is in speech marks, it's all just part of the other text.
While this is clearly a clever way of showing the disconnect and muffling quality of the silence, it's not practical and led to me like: was this out loud? Who said that?
Yes, it's nice to be smart and experiment. No, it's not too big a deal. Yes, it is irritating.
Also, there was less of a sense of place than I was expecting.
I know Cardiff - yes, the features are Cardiff (with some of those quirky alternate-reality exceptions) but to me it didn't feel like Cardiff.
This may just be me - I'm notoriously bad at sense of place in books (and in life... I get lost a lot...)
Also, while I liked the bilingual elements, your average day in Cardiff will involve a lot less Welsh language than this book suggests.
OK, this book is weird - but it's a good weird.
It's the kind of weird which keeps you reading, keeps you guessing, and is just my cup of tea (or coffee - I'm one of the few British people who can't stand tea. I know, she's a rebel.)
OK guys - it's as simple as this: RT this tweet and FOLLOW my Twitter account, and you could be getting your very own copy of Star-Shot, courtesy of publishers Seren Books.