Posts Tagged ‘modern gothic’

Marina – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Posted in Historical Fiction, YA Fiction on October 8th, 2013 by admin – 3 Comments



Weidenfeld & Nicolson


My Rating
5 stars

Written between 1996 and 1997, Marina is the last of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s series of four YA novels.  Each novel has a gothic feel with supernatural overtones and Marina is particularly engaging with its otherwordly, ethereal atmosphere.

Narrated by 30 year old Oscar Drai, the story is set in 1980s Barcelona when Oscar mysteriously disappears from his boarding school.  During his “lost” week, Oscar and his new friend, Marina, experience the hidden, darker side of old Barcelona – a world far removed from modern life, a world peopled with sinister characters with shady background stories.
Whilst some might find Zafon’s style a bit OTT and flowery, I simply relish the escapism offered by his stories.  There is something irresistible about his storytelling, the Hammer House of Horror settings, the feeling of malevolence which permeates the story keeping you hanging  until the final page.   For teen readers, the growing attraction between Marina and Oscar is appealing but, of course, adversity constantly puts obstacles in their path.

Not for the faint-hearted, this spooky tale oozes gothic intensity – a really entertaining tale for teens and beyond.


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The Bellwether Revivals – Benjamin Wood

Posted in Contemporary Fiction on January 21st, 2012 by admin – 6 Comments

The Bellwether Revivals

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (2 Feb 2012)
  • I was drawn to this like a moth to the light – I can’t resist novels set in academic environments with quirky, over-privileged characters who I’d be tempted to throttle in real life.  It’s always a bonus if this elite group assimilates someone from a lower class, hoping to mould him in their own image.  Brideshead Revisited and The Secret History rank amongst my all-time favourite reads so The Bellwether Revivals should be a shoo-in….but is it strong enough to forge its own path or is it just a readable homage?

    I’m delighted to report that The Bellwether Revivals is a very distinctive, debut novel with its own identity and power.  Oscar Lowe, a young Care Assistant, finds himself drawn into another world when he meets and becomes romantically involved with Iris Bellwether, an undergraduate at Cambridge.  It is the hypnotic organ playing of Iris’s enigmatic brother Eden which draws Oscar into a church and acts as the catalyst for a series of disturbing events.

    The characterisation is superb – you feel like you’re right beside Oscar, meeting Eden for the first time, being magnetically drawn to this rangy, curly haired, eccentric/mad creature who thinks he can heal via the medium of music.   Eden’s friends and family feel compelled to protect him but is he merely a tad idiosyncratic or a real danger to himself and others?  Iris is torn between loyalty to her brother and her burgeoning romance with Oscar.  Mater and Pater live in splendid isolation, with only a vague interest in their children, as long as their grades are good.

    From the very first page I was drawn into the compelling and, at times, unnerving world of the Bellwethers.  The opening will hook you as we begin with an ending and you really have to find out how we get there.  An excellent debut novel which will appeal to fans of Brideshead, The Secret History and The Lessons by Naomi Alderman.  I can’t wait to see what this talented author comes out with next.

    My thanks to Net Galley for sending me this ARC.

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