Book Reviews

Nettles by Adam Scovell

What Da Covers Says: It is the first day of term at a secondary school on Merseyside, 2001. The Towers are soon to fall. A boy cowers in an alleyway, surrounded by a group clad in black. They whip his bare legs with nettles. This is only the start.

As term unfolds, their bullying campaign intensifies. Soon the boy finds solace hiding in marshland under the nearby motorway. Voices there urge council with Grannies Rock, a strange stone that sits on derelict land known as The Breck. There, the whispers in the breeze promise a terrible revenge.

Twenty years later, the boy has grown. He is back home from London to pack away his childhood. Armed with a Polaroid camera, he aims to exorcise those painful memories through a series of photographs. But is his memory of what happened reliable?

Nettles is a powerful exploration of memory and violence, excavating the stories we tell ourselves to escape our past.

What I Says: Mesmerising! This was so good, one of those books that comes along in a blue moon that takes you on a harrowing journey and leaves you feeling exhilarated at it’s conclusion. This is a book exploring a childhood memory and how that person’s memory interpreted certain events.

It’s a boy’s first day at school and he experiences some incredibly violent bullying, the scenes are shocking and leave you feeling really uncomfortable. The subject matter is the sort of thing that many of us have dealt with in our time, the constant threat of a bully, the not knowing when the next attack will come and being unable to tell a teacher for fear of the consequences….all that life experience gives an added dimension to Scovell’s words.

The events have a rather amazing background, Scovell shows us an unexpected beauty in the landscape, a motorway bridge surrounded by marshland. It’s this land, or at least it’s spirit which saves the boy, it’s what gives him temporary sanctuary and it’s what keeps him strong during those scenes of violence. Scovell is revisiting his childhood home and he takes a polaroid camera with him, the images are included and I love how this is used as the stepping stone into the past.

This is a fantastic book, very poetic and easy to read, in fact a little too easy, I had to keep telling myself to slow down and savour the words. You’ve gotta give this book a go, it’s one of the best I’ve read exploring an individual’s past.

Massive thanks to Influx Press for sending me this copy to review, if you wanna check it out then bypass that site named after a river and get directly from the publisher HERE:


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