Sunday 21 February 2016
In Kerry Hadley-Pryce's disturbing and remarkable novel, The Black Country, everything is relative: all facts, all actions, all truths are relative to their observers. Everything is in the conditional tense, in quotation marks; and all the overlapping and conflicting narratives are no more than subjective testimonies, a matter of "he says" or "she says." All the characters are telling their own truths and half-truths and lies: when Maddie tries to tell her husband Harry about the past "it might have sounded true," even though there were "some bits she'd edit out"; and when Harry tries in turn to tell Maddie about his crime, "he'd got it, all of it, all the words he was ready to reveal, to uncloak. Some to hide, some to reveal." Words, explanations, narratives hide and reveal at the same time, making the novel a mass of semi-revelations and competing explanations, none of which quite explain, none of which quite uncloak the "whole" truth. All the characters involved are themselves, in a sense, pseudo-novelists, editing, reshaping, and failing to tell their stories.
Ultimately, The Black Country asks what "all this explanation on top of explanation" amounts to: "Do we really believe them?," asks the first-person narrator towards the end. Do we really believe any of them - including the mysterious first-person narrator himself? The Black Country's answer is profound and unsettling; what the novel uncloaks above all is the terrifying darkness at the heart of relativism: layer after layer of provisional narratives are brought into question, peeled away, discarded, to reveal a still-darker narrative layer beneath. At the heart of it all this provisionality, this conditionality, this contingency is not the absolute truth that we might expect of a first-person narrator who seems to command all the other perspectives - but something terrifying, something very black indeed.
About the reviewer
Jonathan Taylor is author of the novels Melissa (Salt, 2015), and Entertaining Strangers, and the memoir Take Me Home (Granta, 2007). His website is www.jonathanptaylor.co.uk.
Saturday 20 February 2016
This book is very cool. It is full of adventure. In this book, Lara the Spy Dog, who is also called GM451, sets out on a journey to stop Mr. Big from stealing the Millennium Diamond. Lara is helped out by Sophie, Ben and Ollie. By the end, no one is sure who has the real diamond and who has the fake one. There is also a naughty dog who looks like Lara, but who is owned by Mr. Big. You can tell she is different because she doesn't have the bullet-hole in her ear. This is a very exciting story.
About the reviewer
Rosalind Taylor is seven years old. She has a twin sister called Miranda Taylor. She hopes you enjoy the book!
Saturday 13 February 2016
I think this is a really good book. It is written by Daisy Meadows, who is actually a lot of different people put together. I like this book because the fairy has my name. In the story, the goblins try and steal Miranda the Beauty Fairy’s magical lipstick. Rachel and Kirsty, who are girls from the real world and friends with the fairies, stop them. I like the character of Kirsty a lot because she is adventurous and not shy. But I still like all the characters in the book, except the baddies and Jack Frost. I especially enjoyed the end of the book the most because then everything goes back to normal. I would give this book five stars out of five. I love Rainbow Magic books.
Author the reviewer
Miranda Taylor is seven years old and she has a twin sister called Rosie. She hopes you like her review.