Black Dog – Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Daniel Egneus

31199023In a quiet English village, legend tells of a black dog that appears in the darkness. If you see him, you die. Shadow Moon has been on the road for a long time so, when he meets a nice couple at the pub in this village, he gratefully accepts their offer of a room to stay in. However, when the man collapses on the way home, Shadow realises that this village is harbouring a dark secret.

Black Dog follows Shadow Moon, the main character from American Gods, so although it does work as a standalone novella and doesn’t follow on directly, it would be helpful to read American Gods first for context.

The book is very short but you can really tell what a remarkable writer Neil Gaiman is because it’s incredibly atmospheric and tells a complete and engaging story with barely any scene-setting, character development, or build-up.

I read the version illustrated by Daniel Egneus and the illustrations really made the reading experience special. The pictures are dark and abstract and complement the story beautifully.

Goodreads | Amazon

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The Murderer’s Ape – Jakob Wegelius

30153285Sally Jones is a gorilla. Smart and resourceful, she lives with her friend, the Chief, working as an engineer on his cargo boat. But when the Chief is convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, and Sally Jones finds herself alone and on the run. In an adventure that crosses continents, Sally Jones meets new friends and powerful enemies and must use her many talents to find the one person who can clear the Chief’s name.

The Murderer’s Ape is a true delight. Brilliantly written, and with beautiful illustrations, I enjoyed every second of this book. The story is pretty long, but incredibly well told and very easy to follow with short chapters and quite a simple writing style. I’m not sure if the simplicity is due to the original writing or the translation, but it is really effective because it adds a layer of authenticity that the book is written from the point of view of a gorilla.

There are a lot of different locations and characters, all of whom were interesting to read about and bought something unique to the story. Overall, this book was a lot of fun and a pleasure to read.

Goodreads | Amazon

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

31199020I had been meaning to read this book for a while, and finally got around to it in advance of the upcoming TV series. I actually read a new edition, illustrated Daniel Egneus, which is longer than the older editions of the book (so it’s taken me an absolute age to finish). The illustrations are dark and creepy and a fantastic complement to the story.

American Gods asks the question: what if all the gods that people have ever imagined are still with us today? We follow Shadow, a man who is released from prison a couple of days early following the death of his wife, as he is recruited by Mr Wednesday – a strange man planning a war between the old gods and the new. Along the way we meet a host of characters from both sides – including Easter, Ibis and Jackal, Technical Boy, and Mr Nancy – and watch as Shadow finds himself drawn right into the middle of a war between gods, full of impossible happenings (including the return of his dead wife, Laura).

It is, essentially, a road book. Shadow travels all over America following Wednesday’s orders, meeting strange characters and being followed by FBI-style agents, Mr World and Mr Town. Regular humans also come into the story along the way, making the whole thing somehow believable. It is a long and fantastical tale, but you will find yourself truly drawn in, and rooting for Shadow and the old gods, despite their many quirks and flaws.

There are two particularly great things about this book: the characters and the writing. There is such a massive mix of characters and all of them are special in their own way, and incredibly interesting. And Neil Gaiman’s writing is magic. Even if the story was bad (which it isn’t), Gaiman’s writing style would make it worth reading.

Finally, it does make you think, about gods and where they come from and where they go. What would happen if they decided to go to war, old vs new? Who would win?

Goodreads | Amazon

Sample Review: Cartes Postales From Greece – Victoria Hislop

14212795_10154086831417881_1577678702306334573_nI was fortunate enough to receive a mini proof copy of Cartes Postales from Greece from the publisher. It contained a sample of the story (the beginning and two short stories based on photos) and gorgeous coloured photos inside.

The description: Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.

With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.

On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man’s odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A’s tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.

The book is illustrated with photographs from around Greece, each of which tell their own individual story. Adult illustrated fiction in full colour – a rarity.

I loved the beginning of the story and am desperate to know who A is and why Ellie is receiving the postcards! Buzzing to read the whole story – will definitely be buying this when it goes on sale (September 22nd, 2016)!