Book Reviews

Our Struggle by Wayne Holloway

What Da Cover Says: Paul, ex-tube driver and drinking partner of legendary Union leader Bob Crowe turns up at Essex University in the early 1980s haunted by the death of his colleague on the tracks.

Thrown into the radical mix of Student Union life and the academic intoxication of post-modern theory taught by the likes of Ernesto Laclau, Jaques Derrida and a very young Slavoj Zizek, Paul befriends the novel’s unnamed narrator.

What follows is a riotous attempt to put the 20th Century to bed, as seen through the eyes of the foot soldiers of British history. From miners’ strikes to IRA collection buckets, ANC demonstrations and some very dodgy handling of Soviet money, Our Struggle climaxes with a devastating denouement in modern day Kurdistan.

Holloway’s epic tale asks the big questions: does what we think, what we say, and what we do ever match up? Or are we destined to fall short of the ideals we think we cherish?

What I Says: I went into this book not knowing what to expect, I wasn’t even sure if it was fiction or non-fiction…having finished the book I’m still not 100% sure of the answer to that question as it all feels so real, maybe it is some kind of Anti-Meta-fiction? There was one constant feeling I had whilst reading this, music, whilst there are some bands and songs are mentioned that is not the theme of the book, the idea of music I got was from the structure, it comes across as some kind of punk/jazz infusion, you would be happy and chill like listening to a piece of Jazz until quite unexpectedly you realise that the mood has changed and that punk rage suddenly kicks off, you really do feel the anger of the characters. Very impressive writing skill here.

The book follows an unknown narrator as he witnesses the life of Paul, a train driver who is desperate to not be like his dad, but a tragic death on the lines changes all that, he leaves his job and goes to university and fully immerses himself…and the reader…in the politics and student union activities of the day. The story continues with his life after that, including when the narrator loses contact with Paul, the writing style changes at this point, it now feels like a research project which is one of the ways that it makes it all feel so real. One favourite part of this book was the strikes that turn into a battle with the police, wonderful build up with the narration mixed with chants, I could almost feel I was there, the mounting tension was palpable, the inclusion of the chants was powerful and right in the middle of the riot there is one surreal beautiful moment in an old lady’s garden, loved it.

This is one of those books where the readers are going to have differing ideas on what it is about, for me it is about Paul trying to live and behave how he thinks a person should live (complete opposite of his dad) and it doesn’t matter how you behave you’ll never live up to your expectations. The book takes things one step further and discusses how those actions affects your children and that you’ll always be wondering if you did things right.

This epic book was good fun, I feel like I have been taken on a journey through 1980’s Britain…quite bizarre that things feel exactly the same now in 2022, that same pressure in our lives is with us today. The book is very poetic and all builds up to a very interesting and carefully constructed ending. You gotta have a read of this book as you’ll be missing out otherwise.

Thanks to Influx Press for sending me this copy, if you wanna get an A****n free copy then support the publisher by buying it from them HERE:

Book Reviews

The Autodidacts by Thomas Kendall

What Da Cover Says: A man mysteriously disappears in a lighthouse, as if dissolved by light, leaving behind a notebook filled with bizarre claims of a curse and a series of drawings entitled ‘The Death of the Jubilant Child.’ The investigation into the disappearance unearths hidden connections between the disappeared man, Helene and the strange figure of the Man With The Forks In His Fingers. Fifteen years later, the discovery of the detective’s copy of the notebook by Helene’s daughter seems to set in motion a repetition of the events of the past.

Circuitously structured and intensely lyrical, The Autodidacts explores the mythos of friendship, the necessity of failure, the duty of imagination, and the dreams of working-class lives demanding to be beautiful. It is a prayer in denial of its heresy, a metafictional-roman-a-clef trying to maintain its concealment, and an attempt to love that shows its workings out in the margins of its construction.

What I Says: This was an interesting book, the structure is twisted, it is like an escaped madman has found the book, ripped it into pieces and stuck it back together in a random manner…somehow it works, this unique flow pulls you in and doesn’t let go until it is done. The characters have had the same work done to them, it’s hard to tell who is who, each character seems to have multiple personalities. The conversation is disjointed, there is a character who doesn’t fit in but still manipulates the story, characters disappear with no explanation and there is one hell of a creepy lighthouse. On their own these things could be considered faults but put them together and you’ve got a poetic masterpiece, there is nothing out there like this and nothing that will mess with your emotions this much. The cover is epic, it informs you the sort of madness you are about to enter.

There is not much point in describing the plot to you, each reader will find themselves focusing on one part and this will alter their perspective, for me this was about the characters finding out who they are and where they fit into the world, it explains the multiple personalities, and whereas a “normal” book would focus on one character, this one has 7 individual journeys that all twist together. I reckon if I was to read this in 10 years’ time, I would discover a different side of this book and still be blown away and that is where it is so very clever.

A stunning book that burns bright and that is sure to split readers into two groups “WTF” and “WTF, I Love It”, incredible story and highly recommended for fans of David Lynch.

Book Reviews

The Accidental Detectorist: The Adventures of a Reluctant Metal Detectorist by Nigel Richardson

What Da Cover Says: When a travel writer is stuck on home soil in the middle of a pandemic he meets Kris Rodgers, one of Britain’s eminent metal detectorists. Dipping a toe in the hobby, Nigel quickly finds himself swept up in the world beneath the surface. Above the ground are a cast of fascinating and passionate people who open Nigel’s eyes to a subterranean world of treasure and stories that bring the history of the island to life.

Scouring the country from Cornwall to Scotland in search of treasure and the best detectorists, Nigel finds himself more immersed in the culture than he bargained for and makes his own personal journey from cynicism to obsession in his trail through the heartlands of metal detecting. From women’s groups who react against the hobby’s male bias, to the ‘Nighthawks’ who risk jail-time in their pursuits, he finds his preconceptions disabused and gets to the heart of what makes this quiet community so obsessed with happy beeps.

What I Says: You’re gonna see this a lot in the reviews of this book…I am a massive fan of the TV series The Detectorists and that is the reason I decided to give this book a go…well that and the awesome cover. The thing I loved about the series was how easy it was to get lost in the show, the rambling through fields, being at peace in a chaotic world, friendly banter and the way a find can spark your imagination…I got all of that from this wonderful book. There is a real Zen to detecting whether in the field, watching or reading you can find yourself at peace, even if nothing gets found.

The book starts off with Richardson laughing at the weird folk wondering around fields with an electronic stick comparing them with train spotters after a bit of research he decides to give it a go and see what the fuss was all about, what follows is a full blown obsession to experience the rush you get from finding a hoard. Richardson is very honest with the reader, he explains that he isn’t going to take it seriously and he is shocked about how quickly he falls in love, he also shares his insecurities around other people and the fact that he can’t find even the basic items a new detectorist discovers. Each time Richardson finds something his imagination goes crazy and he creates a story about the item and how it came to be buried in the field he was searching, I loved these little stories, his energy is contagious and I could find no fault in his stories. The area he is exploring is in my neck of the woods and I’ve been to a few of the places, including the Curtis Museum two weeks before starting this book, I think I also met the same museum lady who overloaded me with leaflets and gave me half a dozen different locations to visit.

The writing is very good, the subject matter is fun, I’ve learnt loads and maybe once I become a middle-aged man with one of those weird electronic sticks this book will come in handy in helping me follow the rules and become a world famous detectorist. If you’re a fan of The Detectorists then you’re gonna love this book so give it a go. Anyways, I’m now off to Silchester Roman Wall to bury this book in a nice metal box for some lucky nighthawker to find.

This was my stop on the the accidental detectorist blog tour, thanks to Octopus Books and Random Things Tours for including me, make sure you check out the other stops on the tour

Book Reviews

A Moroccan Trilogy: Rabat, Marrakesh and Fez by Jerome and Jean Tharaud

What Da Cover Says: The Tharaud brothers became unique eyewitnesses to history when summoned in 1917 from the Western Front to Morocco by the Resident-General of the French Protectorate there, Lyautey. The colonial conquest of Morocco had been put on hold after the French army was summoned home in 1914. But in a delicate balancing act, Lyautey kept the peace by establishing a working alliance with some of the most powerful of the tribal lords of Morocco. It was part of a coherent policy to avoid the mistakes in Algeria and preserve Morocco’s historical architecture, faith, and culture intact for future generations.

What I Says: This is a very interesting read, two brothers spending time in Morocco before the area became touristy, when there was a mistrust of the French and their modernising ideas. At times it also feels like a love story, the brothers writing (of which it is impossible to tell there are two separate writers) comes across at first as rather imperialist, at one point they say Morocco is lucky the French are there to help instead of somebody else wanting to take advantage, to defending the country and almost becoming one with it’s people.

The brothers immerse themselves in the culture really well, they understood (and followed) the rules, the laws and how the people act with each other, because of this you could see they earned a certain amount of trust, getting invited to places and events that outsiders previously wouldn’t have witnessed. It is these experiences that shape the trilogy, the reader gets to share some incredible scenes, in particular a wedding. Its sheer scale and traditions is mind boggling, I got the feeling that the only way these events were successful was down to the number of people involved.

There were a few moments where the writing gets a bit risque, describing the Jewish quarter had me sucking the air through me teeth and at the beginning the western opinions of the locals really showed but the more time they spent there those opinions soon vanished…at one point when a French fairground turned up they were outraged at how everybody suddenly changed when seeing all these modern toys.

The books are well written and I’m glad I got to read about Morocco in the old days, it seems to have been an intense culture that would have been overwhelming to witness. Another fine book published by the mighty Eland.

Thanks to Eland Publishing for sending me this copy to review, if you want to get yourself a copy then you can from HERE:

Book Reviews

On the Scent by Paola Totaro, Robert Wainwright

Full Title is: On the Scent: Unlocking the Mysteries of Smell — and How Its Loss Can Change Your World

What Da Cover Says: Paola is on a journey to get her sense of smell back.  Before the pandemic, loss of smell was estimated to affect about 5% adults in the UK but about 40% of Covid sufferers experience anosmia in some form, catapulting this least understood sense into the spotlight. Paola lost her sense of smell just days after London went into the first lockdown, 2 months before anosmia was an officially recognised symptom here. Reporting from the UK on the pandemic for the Australian press, she began to investigate whether this strange and awful symptom might be related to Covid.  

On the Scent weaves together Paola’s own story of scent loss and partial recovery, with the latest chemo-sensory research and fascinating facts about the sense we know least about, as well as practical solutions for those experiencing scent loss.  It is set against the context of how the British government delayed their acceptance of anosmia as a symptom of C-19; and how the scientific community came together in an unprecedented way to research it.  From Scent Training as a recovery aid to why some anosmics experience radical distortions in how things smell, On the Scent explains why we ignore the Cinderella of the Senses at our cost: it is a risk factor in depression and significant in the early detection of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. 

What I Says: One of the most interesting books I have ever read! I went into this book being like a normal person and taking smell for granted, it’s always been there and done it’s job, recognising food that has gone off, detecting smoke when in danger and getting me in trouble as being the victim of “whoever smelt it, dealt it”. Whilst my hearing is a bit rubbish and my eyesight is awful, I have never really lost my ability to smell, the odd moment during a cold but usually too ill to care about that. This book has really opened my eyes (and nose) to what people are going through when they can no longer smell, they lose part of the world around them and until COVID came along are never taken seriously…and when the smells come back it always isn’t good news, for some they get one smell and often it is a nasty one…imagine everything smelling and tasting of sewage, my brain just cannot process this.

The layout of this book is great, you get the history of olfaction, the present day situation and how COVID changed things and then the future, ways to get the smell-ability back. Mixed in with all this is the scientists, the work they have done and the incredible things they have discovered and throughout the book Totaro shares with us first hand experience as anosmia kicks in, the way it affected her life and mental health and how she worked hard to get it all working again. The science is fascinating and Totaro writes in a way that makes it easy to follow, some words are rather technical but do not take anything away from the reading experience. I also like the fact that Totaro explores further, looking at things like art and language and I have noticed whilst writing this review that I get red squiggly lines under anosmia and olfaction both are words Microsoft refuse to accept.

One sign that shows how good this book is, is that I have had loads of conversations with friends about what I’ve learnt…most conversations were about what I learnt about nipples….and it has also made me thing about my life. I remember as a little kid being forced to eat weetabix because my parents considered it healthy, the stuff is right mank and I hated it, I soon learnt that if I held my nose I was able to eat it, I guess that classes me as a child scientist. One more point of interest that caused a big discussion at work was the chapter about how our wonderful and very very capable government handled the pandemic and that it took them far longer to acknowledge that the lack of smell and taste was a symptom, none of us were aware of this delay…crazy.

This is a cracking book that I can’t recommend enough, I have learnt a huge amount from this and have a new appreciation for my 5th sense.

Massive thanks to Elliott & Thompson for sending me the copy to read, make sure to grab yourself a copy from HERE:

Book Reviews

After Sundown edited by Mark Morris

What Da Cover Says: This new anthology contains 20 original horror stories, 16 of which have been commissioned from some of the top names in the genre, and 4 of which have been selected from the 100s of stories sent to Flame Tree during a 2-week open submissions window. It is the first of what will hopefully become an annual, non-themed horror anthology of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer.

What I Says: I don’t read much horror, so of the 20 authors included in this book I had read none and only heard of a few. There are 16 well known authors and 4 that haven’t made it to the big time yet…I was unable to tell the difference, the quality of story telling was high from each author. The range of stories was varied, a well selected mix was picked by Morris, you have sci-fi, gothic, modern take on horror, post-apocalyptic and good old fashioned ghost stories. I got into some more than others, the others weren’t weak, it’s just with a collection like this you are always gonna have your favourites. Here are the ones I liked best.

Starting off at the end BRANCH LINE by Paul Finch, a proper good old fashioned ghost story with a scary lady in a wedding dress. The intensity builds up nicely to a cracking ending, not too many pages long and this story still had time for a nice plot twist at the end.

SWANSKIN by Alison Littlewood. A rather messed up folklore style tale, full of tragic scenes and plenty of beauty, loved it.

SAME TIME NEXT YEAR by Angela Slatter. Story told from the point of view of a ghost in a cemetery and the fun she gets up to once a year, not really scary (well it is for her victims haha) but fun to read.

IT DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT by Michael Marshall Smith. This was the pick of the bunch for me, in the style of Stephen King, taking something you wouldn’t consider to be a scary story and creating something mind boggling…Getting your kid ready for school….nothing scary there right????

All in all this is a fine introduction into 20 authors, each author has a bio at the end so if you want to see what else they have written then this book helps you with that. Highly recommended book.

If you wanna get yourself a copy then you can avoid A****n and support Indie bookshops by purchasing it from HERE:

Book Reviews

Blog Tour: Cold Fish Soup by Adam Farrer

What Da Cover Says: Before Adam Farrer’s family relocated to Withernsea in 1992, he’d never heard of the Holderness coast. The move represented one thing to Adam: a chance to leave the insecurities of early adolescence behind. And he could do that anywhere. What he didn’t know was how much he’d grow to love the quirks and people of this faded Yorkshire resort, in spite of its dilapidated attractions and retreating clifftops.

While Adam documents the minutiae of small-town life, he lays bare experiences that are universal. His insights on family, friendship, male mental health and suicide are revealed in stories of reinvention, rapacious seagulls, interdimensional werewolves, burlesque dancing pensioners, and his compulsion towards the sea.

What I Says: I do like it when somebody sets out to write a book and they lose all control to the book itself, Farrer is commissioned to write about a small Seaside town that is slowly losing it’s battle with the sea and ends up writing a love story about said town, after baring his soul to the reader. The book starts off quite dark, on the edge of a cliff, battling with his insecurities and looking for a reason to not give up…up steps Withernsea, it’s people and an awesome old dog called Millie.

Farrer shares with us the state of his mental health, he takes us through his life trying to understand how he is like he is and all the events that have shaped the man he is. He also shares with us his family, including his adorable mum, the conversations they have are so funny, I was guffawing like an idiot at her defence of gulls and Farrer trying to provoke her into admitting she was wrong. If you have ever seen Jack Whitehall’s travels with my father then you’ll understand the dynamic between the pair of them, it is the sort of relationship you wish you could have with a parent…in fact I demand a TV show with the pair of them. There is a lot of discussion about death (Withernsea seems to get a rather large share) and how it affects those left behind, and these scenes are written with such care that you also feel the loss…but when Farrer’s sense of humour kicks in it feels like the sun breaking through the dark clouds on a typical summer’s day, very uplifting.

Each chapter is set up like a mini essay, Farrer takes a minor event or comment and rolls with it, where it leads is always interesting….Werewolves from another dimension, evil gulls that rob shops, burlesque shows and an army of windmills. Farrer meets some interesting people during his research, from a guy who takes a photo of a pebble every day to an old chap who once ate a gull. Farrer’s love for Withernsea really shows on these pages and I was left wondering when he started this book did he realise how much the place had got under his skin? I really liked the last chapter, an unique and interesting way to do a conclusion, create a virtual museum and decide what you would include that shows what a place means to you.

I’ve seen somebody compare Farrer’s writing to Alan Bennett and I can 100% see that, the wonderful characters and wit feels very much like the lady in the van. I have enjoyed every page, all the lows, all the highs and the many many laughs. Now get on and make me that TV show!

This was my stop of the Cold Fish Soup Blog Tour thanks to Random Things Tours and Saraband Books for including me, make sure you check out the other reviews. If you want the book you can get a copy from HERE:

About The Author: Adam Farrer is a writer and editor who has performed at festivals and events including Manchester Literature Festival and the Northern Lights Writers Conference. His work has been published in the anthology Test Signal and he edits the creative non-fiction journal The Real Story, as well as teaching writing workshops. Cold Fish Soup is his first book. Adam Farrer has previously been a photo lab technician, a kitchen porter, the voice of an automated phone system, an illustrator, ceramicist, musician, music journalist, and he currently works at the University of Salford. He is available for interview.

Book Reviews

Fat Sensei by Kevin Berg

What Da Cover Says: It’s new release day at Video Hole and nothing can stop Gill from getting the latest instalment of his favourite film series, not even childhood heroes. Make the journey with him or step aside, lest you get chopped in the fucking neck meat.

What I Says: Gosh this brings back the old memories, the after school Friday trip to the video shop with the family to see what new VHS was in, every single tape facing forwards so you could see every awesome cover, at times it could be overwhelming, the colours and words jumping out at you. I’ll always remember renting My Stepmother is an Alien and the awkwardness in the living room as you could see Kim Basinger’s nips (a 1 TV household). Streaming just isn’t the same 😦

This book follows Gill on his birthday, a total karate…sorry I mean karate expert, it’s VHS release day and the final instalment of Stevie Seagull’s new karate flick is out, Gill has one job…get there for when the store opens to be first to get his mitts on this life changing movie. Destiny has other ideas and throws bad guy after bad guy in his way, Gill teams up with unlikely hero grumps and together they battle their way to the store for the final boss showdown.

This book is nasty, it will make you cringe with the many many bodily fluids that get a mention, it is super violent, up there with American Psycho, there is something to offend everyone…and it has a spinning nut-sack, does any other book have the “balls” to include that? I think not! I loved it, every page is like a refreshing punch to the face so get on board and give it a read…..don’t make me chop you in the fucking neck meat!

If you are wandering about the cover, it is another fantastic piece of art from Marcel Herms, check out his work HERE:

Book Reviews

Nemesis, My Friend: Journeys Through the Turning Times by Jay Griffiths

What Da Cover Says: This new book of essays from the author of Wild tracks the turning light of the day and seasons, an almanac of the turning times. Beginning in night and winter, it moves to dawn and spring, then noon and summer and finally evening and autumn. Set partly at the author’s home in Wales, the book journeys widely, searching for a dead father in Prague, listening to the Sky-Grandmothers of Mexican myth and staying with the people of West Papua who, when they know they will fall over laughing, lie down first. It asks: what is the real gift of the misunderstood Goddess Nemesis? Why should flowers be prescribed as medicine? What do male zebra finches dream of? Where do the sands of time run fastest, and how is that connected to the age of anxiety? It explores the dawn chorus; the tradition of sacred hospitality; dust from the time before the sun even existed; the twilight time of the trickster and the daily rituals of morning. In all of these it asks: why does light, through the hours of the day and the seasons of the year, affect us? Griffiths concludes this extraordinary collection by deciding that light is in fact how we think.

What I Says: What an extraordinary book, Griffiths has such a good voice, so easy to read and much to learn within these pages. I found myself shaking my head in disbelief, nodding along whilst chuckling and blown away by my lack of knowledge. Griffiths has split the book into four parts, it feels like it is structured around the seasons, the essay length starts off long and as the year gets to the end and the nights are drawing in the essays start to get shorter, I haven’t actually counted the pages but this is how it felt, I could almost see myself reading the last chapters sat around a fire. Each essay also has it’s focus on a particular theme or word, singing, hearth, hospitality and trickster are a few examples, having this word as a focus gives the writing a poetic feel and makes in much easier to understand what Griffiths is describing to the reader.

Favourite chapters were about the trickster, where Boris Johnston receives a dressing down, I loved at how easily Griffiths destroys him, words are powerful and Griffiths knows how to use them (Tory opposition should read this book for inspiration for the next general election). The laughter in West Papua started off with a smile and concludes with the genocide that has been going on over there for years whilst supported by the western world, I was shocked that this has been going on for so long and I’d never heard about it before, just goes to show how politicians and media spin things and only let you know what they want you to know about. Hospitality was another interesting essay, the origins of the word, how it was used in the Bible and throughout history and how it compares to today in the UK with treatment of the homeless…how to spend that council money, free shelter or bars on benches to keep the place tidy.

The essay I got the most out of was due to a conversation I had the day before reading it with a colleague at work, they love ice skating and I think it is the most boring thing you can do, going round and round in a circle trying to avoid other clumsy skaters. Griffiths has opened my eyes to “wild” ice skating, out on a lake or a frozen field, now this is what I could get into, the wind in me beard, the restrictions mostly lifted, the potential solitude and that it wouldn’t cost me 30 quid to have a go. I think I’ve been converted…just gotta hope that somehow the climate crisis will given me a chance to give this a go.

A fantastic collection that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading, something to learn in each essay. Griffiths has an original voice and one that is a joy to read.

Thanks to Little Toller Books for sending me this review copy, if you want to check it out then support the publisher by buying direct from them HERE:

Book Reviews

The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas (Special Edition) by Daniel James

What Da Cover Says: Ezra Maas is dead. The famously reclusive artist vanished without a trace seven years ago while working on his final masterpiece, but his body was never found. While the Maas Foundation prepares to announce his death, journalist Daniel James finds himself hired to write the untold story of the artist’s life – but this is no ordinary book. The deeper James delves into the myth of Ezra Maas, the more he is drawn into a nightmarish world of fractured identities and sinister doubles.

A chilling literary labyrinth, The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas blends postmodern noir with artworks, photographs, newspaper clippings, original documents, biography, letters, phone transcripts, and emails to create a book like no other before it.

Da Review:

My History With This Book: April 21st 2019 was when I first finished reading this book, it was an incredible reading experience where fiction started to mess with reality…the paranoia in those pages leaked into real life, I saw signs of the Maas Foundation everywhere and I saw how powerful their reach was as book awarding bodies were forced into blocking wins for the book and anybody showing an interest in the book were soon followed by the Maas Foundation on social media….just for reading this review you’ll probably be on their radar. My review of the 1st edition of this book can be found HERE:

What’s Special about the Special Edition?: Using a new publisher James has created a true piece of art, hand written letters, photos, official government documents, confessions and maps are included with some fantastic artwork from Hanna Ten Doornkaat. Putting all this together gives you a reading experience like no other. Some of the documents even have blood on them, looks rather real, I wonder whose blood it was?

My Thoughts On The Re-Read: Due to the strange experiences after reading in 2019 I decided to play it safe this time, I travelled over 200 miles from my home to read the book in a secure hotel room in Liverpool whilst being protected by John Lennon:

I don’t think it matters how many times I read this book I’ll never be ready for the experience, the puzzle of trying to figure things out, the narration by “Anonymous” directing the reader to the outcome “they” want, the way Anonymous keeps interrupting the story makes me smile as I think “you ain’t controlling me this time”…I reckon maybe I lasted 50 pages before I was under their control. The characters are fantastic you’ll both love and hate Daniel James and you’ll be mesmerised by the life of Ezra Maas as you try to figure out why you have never heard of this man. I may be one of those readers that gets “a little too involved” in a book but this feels way more immersive than a movie, I was seeing clues all over the place, coming up with theory after theory which were soon shot down within a few pages, it was like the idea was put into my head and then taken away again as the book exerted it’s control over me.

You really need to pay attention to what you read, this is tougher to do than you’d expect as so much is thrown at you, little things like a description of a piece of Maas artwork is replicated later on in Daniel James’s life, blink and you’ll miss it.

Decoding Maas: If you haven’t read this book you may wish to skip this bit, whilst it isn’t spoilers it does contain my theories. It is mentioned many times that Maas includes numbers in his work, these numbers then lead you onto the next puzzle, during the reading I didn’t spot any clues, but I’ve done a few escape rooms since and am more adept at spotting clues and they were everywhere. There are over 500 footnotes and you gotta keep a close eye on the numbering, some are duplicated, some are missing. There is also a clue in the text to watch out for how the grammar is used, some pages have extra spaces before a comma…could this be highlighting that you need to look closer at the page? There is also the puzzle of who is Anonymous, I think I have figured it out….Anonymous is none other than 1.

Final Thoughts: This is still one of the best reading experiences I have ever had and it has been greatly improved by the additional images in this edition. The story twists and turns, confusing you at every turn, full of truths and lies, a detective novel without a detective, clues that are there to distract and that unsettled feeling you get from every David Lynch movie. Oh and the ending! Holy crap it is good, guaranteed to leave you breathless and shaking your head in amazement at what you have just read.

  1. Obviously this can’t be shared with the public so for the reviewer’s safety I have redacted this – Anonymous

You can get a copy of the book from HERE:

You can stalk Daniel James on Twitter and Instagram.

You can keep an eye on the Maas Foundation HERE:

You can check out the Books soundtrack HERE: