LINZI GLASS: The Year the Gypsies Came
This is the first novel from author Linzi Glass, although she has previously written screenplays and short stories amongst other things. ‘The Year the Gypsies Came’ is a bittersweet story, but heavy on the bitter side and not so much sweet. The central character is young teenager Emily Iris. It is 1966 and Emily lives in the suburbs of Johannesburg with her beautiful older sister Sarah, her vain, distracted mother and her harassed father. It is not surprising then that Emily is closer to the gentle old Zulu night-watchman Buza than she is to her own parents. The story is set against a background of racial tension in a South Africa in the midst of Apartheid and a gruesome murder at the local lake. Into all this comes a family of Australian travellers and it is their arrival that sparks the beginning of the end for the Iris family. For Emily, terrible heartbreaking discoveries are made followed by devastating tragedy that rocks her world.
LIAN HEARN: The Harsh Cry of the Heron
This is the masterful continuation of the Tales of the Otori books from Lian Hearn. In this novel the story has moved forward sixteen years, to where Takeo and Kaede are ruling the Three Countries peacefully and prosperously. They have produced three daughters. Their eldest daughter Shigeko, Takeo’s heir possesses no tribal skills, but has a great sense of duty and has the makings of a great leader. Takeo’s younger daughters, the twins Maya and Miki possess many tribal talents, but lack Shigeko’s obedience and respect and are regarded with great suspicion by many. Takeo’s past and the events that placed him where he is are catching up with him fast. There is the matter of the mysterious prophecy involving his son, still unknown to Kaede.
As well as this there is unrest within the Muto tribe, the Kikuta tribe are still intent on revenge and Takeo’s devious sister-in-law, Arai Hana is taking full advantage of this situation. Takeo must also respond to the interest in the Three Countries from the Emperor and his warlord. Luckily for Takeo he still has many allies, but will this be enough to protect everything he has worked so hard to build up? ‘The Harsh Cry of the Heron’ is the brilliant follow up to the Tales of the Otori and a fantastic read! Also look out for a prequel to the series Heaven’s Net is Wide due out this year!
The titles in the Tales of the Otori sequence are:
> Across the nightingale floor
> Grass for his pillow
> Brilliance of the moon
Click here for the Tales of the Otori website and find out more about this fascinating world.
SIOBHAN DOWD: A Swift Pure Cry
A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd is simply a wonderful novel. Despite it’s serious subject matter it has a gentle pace that draws you in effortlessly. It tells the sorrowful tale of Shell Talent, a forgotten girl living in a small village in Ireland. Despite being very naïve Shell remains incredibly strong through everything life throws at her, beginning the premature death of her Mother. Due to her father’s extreme grief, Shell struggles alone to look after her two younger siblings. But who is looking out for Shell? Everything seems very bleak for Shell, but the arrival of a caring young priest sees things changing. A heart wrenching novel and well worth a read!