Season's Readings: May 2015

It's the end of another month, so that means another Season's Readings post! May has been a bit of a slow month for me on the reading front; I decided to get back into my Charles Dickens Challenge and that, plus having various magazines to get through, ultimately slowed me up a bit. But I still managed to read three books, so here's what was on the list this month...

Half Bad - Sally Green
There has been a glut of supernatural young adult fiction in the last few years, but Half Bad stands out because it's just that good. It follows Nathan Byrne, outcast son of a white witch mother and a black witch father with a fearsome reputation, who sets out to find his destiny before his seventeenth birthday. The book moves along at a rollicking pace, creating a great sense of the frustration and desperate energy pent up within Nathan and its rush of release throughout the novel, and the settings - particularly the mountainous areas - are captured so perfectly you can feel the rain and smell the earth. Additionally, the characters are all brilliantly realised; as well as getting inside Nathan's head, you get a great understanding of his family, love interest Annalise, enemies and those he meets along his journey, even if they're only mentioned in a few snippets. It was a book I completely lost myself in and I can't wait to read the sequel,

Little Dorrit - Charles Dickens
Having fallen off the wagon of reading Dickens for a few months, I decided to pick up where I left off with Little Dorrit. The titular character, Amy, is born in debtors' prison following her father's being sent there, and grows up within its walls. Along the way she meets Arthur Clennam, recently returned from China and trying to make something of himself, despite the opposition of his mother and her servant Flintwinch. Although the book is a shrewd observation of how money - or the lack of it - changes people and on what constitutes a 'good' marriage, I found it dragged a lot and often the subplots were more interesting than the main love story between Amy and Arthur. Similarly, Amy Dorrit and her story felt like a retread of Esther Summerson in Bleak House. Not my favourite Dickens so far, but by no means the worse, though I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
As I was down in Cornwall last week and have a thing about reading books set in places I'm visiting, I decided to finally pick up Rebecca, arguably her most famous novel. It tells the story of the second Mrs de Winter, young wife of Maxim who owns the Manderley estate, and how she is affected by his first wife Rebecca, whose spirit seems to haunt the house. The book is brilliantly atmospheric, creating a strong sense of the oppression the narrator feels as Rebecca's presence lingers at Manderley, supported by the obsessive housekeeper Mrs Danvers (one of the most brilliantly creepy characters in all literature). du Maurier's writing is brilliantly haunting - making you pause over lyrical passages before turning the page in desperation to find out what happens next - and the book has stayed with me since I finished it, like a dream you're not sure was real. Definitely worth a read especially if you like the Gothic feelings of the likes of Jane Eyre.

So overall, not a bad month's reading! I think my favourite was Rebecca which just narrowly pipped Half Bad to the post, but all three books were decent reads on various levels. I'm expecting June to take a little while as I've just picked up Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell for a re-read and it is massive (over 800 pages), but we'll see how it goes...

What have you read this month? Have you read any of these books?

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