Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Review: 'Genius and Discovery: Five Historical Miniatures' by Stefan Zweig, trans. by Anthea Bell

I love history and I love fictionalised accounts of history, when an author takes a moment crucial, in their mind, to human history and imagines what must have gone through people's minds. Stefan Zweig promised to do exactly that Genius and Discovery so I faithfully followed him into its pages. And I wasn't disappointed. Thanks to Pushkin Press and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 14/11/2017
Publisher: Pushkin Press
One of two beautifully designed hardback gift editions of Stefan Zweig's breathlessly dramatic historical sketches, out in time for the holidays.
Millions of people in a nation are necessary for a single genius to arise, millions of tedious hours must pass before a truly historic shooting star of humanity appears in the sky.
Five vivid dramatizations of some of the most pivotal episodes in human history, from the Discovery of the Pacific to the composition of the Marseillaise, bringing the past to life in brilliant technicolor.
Included in this collection:"Flight into Immortality": Vasco Núñez de Balboa's quest to be the first European to see the Pacific Ocean. "The Resurrection of George Frederic Handel": Handel falls into depression until a poet sends him an inspirational work."The Genius of a Night": Captain Rouget writes La Marseillaise, the song which is to become the French national anthem."The Discovery of El Dorado": John Sutter founds New Helvetia in western America and attempts to keep it."The First Word to Cross the Ocean": Cyrus W. Field resolves to lay the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable.
When I told my mother I would be reading Stefan Zweig in English she was affronted. Surely I should be reading such a great German author in German? I guess I should be, and after reading Genius and Discovery I also will. But that is the beauty of publishers like Pushkin Press, who allow you discover literature from all over the world in English. This small anecdote also allows me to talk about the idea and theme behind Genius and Discovery. In the five stories contained in this book Zweig celebrates the human spirit. The blind determination and mindless passion that marks some of the key moments in human history has something magical, and Zweig captures that beautifully. Some of the moments he describes have been taken for granted or never even considered to be as crucial as they were to shaping a nation, shaping a century.

There is something magical about these stories. Zweig chose five moments in history that meant something to him, during which something changed forever, in which we progressed. As the reader, not all stories will strike equally close to the heart. Some, like the first story 'Flight into Immortality' following Vasco Núñez de Balboa's journey to the Pacific combine a respect for de Balboa's dedication, as well as a blunt honesty about the costs of his dedication to the indigenous populations. I adored 'The Resurrection of George Frederic Handel', something akin to a love letter to Handel and his Messiah. It is beautifully written and made me desperate to listen to the piece again. 'The Genius of a Night' is a beautiful look at the creation of La Marseillaise, while 'The Discovery of El Dorado' and 'The First Word to Cross the Ocean' are elegies to those giants of spirit who threw their whole being into getting something done, advancing themselves or humanity. I came out of Genius and Discovery with warm feeling, a new love for how foolhardy we are as a species, and with an increased admiration for all that we have accomplished.

Zweig's writing is beautiful.Whether it is describing the beauty of South American countries, the power of Handel's Messiah, the hope gained from singing La Marseillaise, the madness behind the gold rush in California, or the seemingly insurmountable task of connecting the continents, Zweig brings a beauty and a power to it all. He clearly cares deeply about these moments and as a consequence he makes his readers care as well. No matter that these moments are decennia ago and take place in a world fundamentally different form ours, Zweig makes his reader engage with these moments and become invested in them. Anthea Bell's translation of Zweig's prose is stunning. I only have read Zweig in English, through her, but I can see why he is considered such a giant of German literature. Thanks to her, I will definitely be looking for more Zweig to read, both in German and translation.

I give this collection...

4 Universes!

I adored the stories in Genius and Discovery! There is something incredibly uplifting about these stories of human spirit, of, indeed, genius and discovery. They would indeed make for an excellent Christmas gift. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in short stories, as well as literary fiction.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Review: 'Reading Jane Austen' by Jenny Davidson

I love Jane Austen, I adore her. She was my introduction into English Literature, in many ways thereby setting me on the path I am on now. So I have a lot of emotions and experiences tied to Jane Austen and her books. When I started studying English Literature I found myself almost subconsciously avoiding writing about her though, partially because my academic interests lay elsewhere, but also because I was a little bit scared. Reading Jane Austen has helped me understand why, in part. Thanks to Cambridge University Press and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 06/11/2017
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

    Whether you’re new to Austen’s work or know it backwards and forwards already, this book provides a clear, full and highly engaging account of how Austen’s fiction works and why it matters. Exploring new pathways into the study of Jane Austen’s writing, novelist and academic Jenny Davidson looks at Austen’s work through a writer’s lens, addressing formal questions about narration, novel writing, and fictional composition as well as themes including social and women’s history, morals and manners. Introducing new readers to the breadth and depth of Jane Austen’s writing, and offering new insights to those more familiar with Austen’s work, Jenny Davidson celebrates the art and skill of one of the most popular and influential writers in the history of English literature.
Jane Austen was the literary light of my life for many years. Her books are still ones I seek one when I need comfort or if I want to laugh, even if I feel like I need to relearn their lessons. But, as said above, I avoided her at university. Reading Davidson's preface I finally figured out why I did so. It's difficult to discuss, criticise, and analyse something you love. I managed to do so with Tolkien's work during my MA but there I also felt the pangs of anger whenever anyone made a, usually valid, criticism of or remark on his work. I knew myself well enough to know I would not be able to dig as deep with a book I loved, take it apart and consider it objectively, as I would with other books. Davidson considers the same issue, commenting that the students who love Jane Austen often have less to put forward in a discussion and take criticism personally. Reading Davidson's Reading Jane Austen showed me that that is most likely true, as I still got defensive at times, especially on Elizabeth's part. But Davidson loves Austen as much as her readers do, and this love and respect also shines through her analysis.

As an avid Janeite, there were a lot of things which Davidson discussed that I had thought of or considered before, but she casts them in a new light and unites them into a number of solid themes that allow you to see these books in a new light. Davidson shows connections between the different texts, ways in which Austen's style developed and improved, even how her personal life and letters illuminate the importance of certain aspects in her novels. The book is split into seven different chapters, each of which has its own theme which is discussed across Austen's work. Whether it's the importance of letter writing in Chapter 1, the importance to Austen of manners and morals in Chapters 3 and 4, or the way she highlighted the role of women in society in Chapter 7, Reading Jane Austen ranges widely, but always does so relevantly. Davidson illuminated some aspects of the book for me and, perhaps most crucially of all, she made me want to reread Jane Austen's books with a new eye.

Jenny Davidson's writing is what makes Reading Jane Austen fun. I know from experience that academic texts, or any non-fiction book that digs into a topic, are often very interesting, but not always fun. And sometimes they're not even interesting, which makes for the worst reading experience ever. Reading Jane Austen, in comparison, is a delight. Davidson writes with an easy and a friendliness that, to me, felt like I was sitting in a seminar at university, having a conversation with her. She quotes Austen at length, allowing her prose to illuminate Davidson's arguments. Some of the chapters, especially those looking at narration for example, can be heavy on academic lingo which might be off putting to those not used to it. However, she doesn't overuse it and explains it well when she does. The Further Reading section at the back is also fascinating for anyone interested in Jane Austen and I will be browsing through it soon for future reading.

I give this book...

4 Universes!

I enjoyed Reading Jane Austen a lot more than I expected, considering it's non-fiction. However, Davidson takes her reader on a lovely stroll through some of the most important themes in Jane Austen's fiction, all the while providing them with new tools to analyse and appreciate Austen's books. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about Austen's fiction.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Review: 'Fresh Complaint' by Jeffrey Eugenides

Jeffrey Eugenides has always been one of those authors I have been meaning to read. The Virgin Suicides, in large part due to Sofia Coppola's film, became one of those books I felt I would like, if only I actually sat down for it. Middlesex was a book I feel I should read, which would actually have something to teach me, if only I actually sat down for it. And so I circled around Eugenides' books for years but never taking the first step. So when I saw Fresh Complaint I figured it was about time I grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and sat down for it. Thanks to Harper Collins and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 03/10/2017
Publisher: Harper Collins; Fourth Estate
‘What was it about complaining that felt so good? You and your fellow sufferer emerging from a thorough session as if from a spa bath, refreshed and tingling?’ 
The first-ever collection of short stories from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides presents characters in the midst of personal and national emergencies. 
We meet Kendall, a failed poet who, envious of other people’s wealth during the real estate bubble, becomes an embezzler; and Mitchell, a lovelorn liberal arts graduate on a search for enlightenment; and Prakrti, a high school student whose wish to escape the strictures of her family leads to a drastic decision that upends the life of a middle-aged academic. 
Jeffrey Eugenides’s bestselling novels Middlesex, The Virgin Suicides and The Marriage Plot have shown him to be an astute observer of the crises of adolescence, self-discovery and family love. These stories, from one of our greatest authors, explore equally rich and intriguing territory. 
Narratively compelling and beautifully written, Fresh Complaint shows all of Eugenides’s trademark humour, compassion and complex understanding of what it is to be human.
Fresh Complaint is a collection of beautiful short stories on that grandest of topics: the human condition. What is this human condition I speak of? It's "the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, and mortality". It is no wonder almost every book finds itself questioning, describing, analysing and despairing over the human condition, since it provides so much material. In Fresh Complaint, then, Eugenides looks at all these events, characteristics and situations that create the human existence. Friendship, love, heartbreak, disappointment, anger, betrayal, it all features in the stories written by Eugenides. The stories sharply, yet also tenderly, analyse how we live, what decisions we make, how sometimes we can't help ourselves, how realisations come too late.

In Fresh Complaint, Eugenides brings together short stories written over the last twenty years. It's a nice touch to see which year each of his stories were written, as it for example explains the anger at the Bush administration in one of the stories. However, since the stories were written over such a long time, there is no single unifying theme to the collection, no clear thread that bind them all together. Occasionally links pop up between the stories, as if Eugenides almost unwittingly returned to a character or place and reused them. This lack of clear and obvious unity, however, allows Eugenides to highlight something else, namely how deeply human all his characters are, no matter their differences. Whether it's 'Baster's narrator, who bitterly watches a former love in her 40s chase after a pregnancy, 'Find the Bad Guy's husband who refuses to believe how his marriage fell apart or the title story's young woman desperately trying to escape her family's traditions, each of Eugenides' stories give us characters struggling for life, struggling through life. The stories are both sad and inspiring, beautiful and tragic. It's a perfect blend to sum up humanity.

It's always a little bit daunting, finally reading an author after years of anticipating and reading praise. But with Eugenides I found my hopes topped and fears quelled. Each story shines with a sympathy and humour that betrays a love for humanity but also an awareness for its flaws. Most of the stories will capture you straight away, as Eugenides sinks his claws into you and refuses to let you go till the last word. Dead-tired, I still tried to keep reading until my hand dropped my Kindle on my head as a clear sign that it was time to sleep. Not all the stories hit their mark, occasionally I found myself wondering what exactly Eugenides was trying to say, and yet the stories still have their own charm. The stories draw you into their own world and for the span of their pages you're deeply connected to and concerned about their characters. Eugenides manages to make his characters almost immediately recognisable, as the reader you get to know them so easily that you feel as if you've known them all along. And you care about them, as if they were your friends and neighbours. Fresh Complaint pretty much made me fall in love with Eugenides' writing and now I will finally just have to sit down for it and read his other books.

I give this collection...

5 Universes!

Fresh Complaint is a beautiful collection of human stories, of ups and downs, of difficulties and ridiculous situations, both intensely recognisable and strangely odd at the same time. Eugenides crafts his characters and stories carefully and there is something here for everyone. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in Short Stories and Literary Fiction.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Something Old, Something New #1: 'Impressions of Theophrastus Such' by George Eliot

I thought it was about time I started a new series of posts and the perfect opportunity came last evening when I dragged my mother into an antique bookstore to finally indulge once again in my favourite hobby: browsing for antique books! And so came about the birth of Something Old, Something New: Adventures on my Antique Bookshelf! I have a whole collection of antique books at home, widely ranging in topic, language and age and I love researching their provenance and their peculiarities. Now, I will be sharing what I find out with you in these posts! If you yourself would like to share something about one of your books, please share a link to your post in the comments and feel free to use the banner, as long as you don't remove my name from it.

The book I found yesterday was one I had never heard of before. I have only read one book by George Eliot, which was Middlemarch, her enormous psychological novel detailing the lives, hopes and disappointments of the villagers of Middlemarch. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected and I developed an appreciation for Eliot, yet it didn't equal the fervour I feel for authors like Emily Brontë or Jane Austen. Yet when I spotted this small book with its bright red cover and George Eliot's name on its spine I was still intrigued. Even more so when I realised it wasn't one of her more famous other works like Daniel Deronda or Adam Bede, but rather the obscure Impressions of Theocrastus Such. And so I bought it. Now what is this book about? Let's find out!

Title: Impressions of Theophrastus Such
Author: George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)
Original Pub. Date: 1879
Original Publisher:

Price: €1
Edition: Collections of British Authors, Tauchnitz Edition, Vol. 1828 (1879)
Bought at: Fächerstadt-Antiquariat, Karlsruhe, Germany

My first action was to Google it and to find out that Wikipedia has exactly two sentences dedicated to this novel. Apparently it was her last work, published in 1879, a year before her death, as well as her most experimental work. The novel consists of 18 essays by an imaginary scholar, whose "eccentric character is revealed through his work" (Wiki). So I broadened my search and stumbled upon a great blog post on this strange novel. In it, Eliot struggles with her own philosophy, her ideas about the world, which she initially present through a character study of her main character, Theophrastus. (For a more detailed analysis of the book's content, please do read this brilliant post by The Lectern.) Theophrastus was a Greek philosopher who became a follower of Aristotle. A book called Characters is attributed to him, in which he wrote the first ever character sketches, outlining thirty moral types. Eliot was clearly inspired by him while writing Impressions, as the title makes beyond obvious.

So what about this specific edition, then? It was published by Tauchnitz, which was a German family of publishers who published English language literature (rather than translation) in mainland Europe. The Bernhard Tauchnitz business was founded on the first of February, 1837, in Leipzig, Germany. The Collection of British and American Authors, of which I believe my book to be part, was begun in 1841 and was something of a precursor to the paperback with its inexpensive reprints of classics. Despite there not being copyright protection for English and American authors in Germany at the time, Tauchnitz paid the authors royalties nonetheless. Once such protections were in place though, Tauchnitz' editions became 'Copyright Editions', and my book is one of those as the title page below states.

An incomplete list of Tauchnitz' English collection's contents exists and it's something of a Who's Who of important English authors. They published the Brontës under their male pseudonyms, Dickens was their first English publication. Thackeray is there, Sheridan, as well as Charlotte M. Yong. The list, created by Amherst College, lists the countless titles published, as well as new editions published of the same books, by year. It is absolutely fascinating to look through, especially just to get a sense of which English books were released to the German audiences through Tauchnitz and how early on. Eventually I found my edition on the list:

As you can see from the photo of the cover I shared above, the description in the list matches my copy exactly. It was quite thrilling to find the exact match and to realise that this book is then, by all accounts, from 1879. That makes this tiny book 138 years old. And all that for only €1. (Find out more about Tauchnitz here.)

So, I had figured out what the book is about and which edition it is I have. But the beautiful thing about antique books is that they come with history. There are little notes scribbled away sometimes, or perhaps your book was once a library book and it has a stamp or sticker from that library. Perhaps there is even a little note or a bookmark tucked away in the pages, forgotten about when it was sold or given away. There is only one immediately noticeable mark of history in my book, and that is a note on the front page.

It is an example of something many of us do, or at least used to. On buying or receiving a new book, you'd write the date and your name in it as a memory. My Impressions has a relatively straightforward note, seemingly. A year and a date. The year is easy to identify as 1901, and the first name is most definitely Therese. I think there are two or three options for the last name. Either it is Rout/Rous or Ront/Rons. The cursive used here could very well be Kurrent, an old form of German handwriting. Although quite recognisable, some letters do have slightly different shapes. The 'n' and 'u' for example, are practically identical except for a small wave-like symbol written above the letter for 'u'. (See the Kurrent alphabet below.) If we accept it's Kurrent, however, then her 'e's are also technically wrong. Then again, we all know what it's like to write cursive, you don't always do it perfectly. Ease of writing is as important as style, after all.

Naturally, I couldn't find anything about a 'Therese Rout' or any other form online. Most likely, she was as normal as I was, and as eager to read this book. But I like knowing someone else once held this book, that a love for reading and an interest in what a book has to offer connects me and someone from over a 100 years ago.

File:Deutsche Kurrentschrift.svg

There are also some small scribbles on the opposite page, numbers they seem to be. I think it most likely that this book was part of a personal collection or home library and that the then-owner marked it as such. The last, blank, page of the book also now has a vague pencil scribble, pricing it at €1. That is now also part of this book's provenance. I'm always tempted to write my own name into a book, perhaps below Therese's. Maybe one day this book will be found by someone else in a different bookstore, and they will trace it back all the way to 1879, but also back to 2017.

That's a nice thought to finish on, no?

Review: 'A Separation' by Katie Kitamura

A Separation fascinated me from the moment I saw it. Relationships are incredibly so interesting, the way people change during the course of them, how we lie and misunderstand. We all strive after relationships, after being close with other people, finding someone who we belong to and who belongs to us. So when the chance to read A Separation materialised, I jumped at it. Thanks to Clerkenwell Press and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 23/03/2017
Publisher: Clerkenwell Press

A young woman has agreed with her faithless husband: it's time for them to separate. For the moment it's a private matter, a secret between the two of them. As she begins her new life, alone, she gets word that her ex-husband has gone missing in a remote region in the rugged southern Peloponnese. Reluctantly she agrees to go and search for him, still keeping their split to herself. In her heart, she's not even sure if she wants to find him. Adrift in the wild and barren landscape, she traces the failure of their relationship, and finds that she understands less than she thought about the man she used to love. A story of intimacy, infidelity and compassion, A Separation is about the gulf that divides us from the lives of others and the narratives we create to mask our true emotions. As the narrator reflects upon her love for a man who may never have been what he appeared, Kitamura propels us into the experience of a woman on the brink of catastrophe. A Separation is a riveting masterpiece of absence and presence that will leave the reader astonished, and transfixed.
We meet our unnamed narrator at the end of her relationship. They have decided to separate and are now floating in that space between on and off, married and divorced, together and apart. For a while now they haven't seen each other and our narrator has, in a sense moved on with her life. And yet this separation isn't final, no one has spoken yet of divorce although she is pretty sure she wants it. They haven't even told anyone yet that they are separated, it is a secret, shamefully kept private. In that situation a call arrives from her (still) mother-in-law who demands she flies to Greece to find her (still) husband. And she says yes. Because how can she not when no one knows, when she is technically still a wife and when she needs to talk to him anyway. And from there a constant conflict begins within her between duty and freedom. A Separation is about how things end, how we let go and how maybe sometimes we can't.

It's strangely difficult to put A Separation down. Kitamura crafts a narrative that intrigues and makes the reader desperate to know more. What happens to people when they separate, what happens when people lose each other? Because Kitamura's narrator is unnamed, while everyone else is named, you feel the erasure of self that exists in her, and many other relationships. She exists in relation to others. We get to know her based on how she interacted with her husband, her parents-in-law, friends, but we also see her struggling with defining herself as an individual. We are in her head but we are also outside of it. The lack of clarity, the confusion of emotions, it is very recognisable for anyone who has been in a relationship or has had a relationship end. Although marketed as a mystery, I wouldn't really classify A Separation as such. It is a psychological book, a book about humans and emotions. There will be moments of realisation similar to a mystery novel, but they won't be about the plot, but rather about what the events of the plot reveal to you about yourself, about humans. It's also a sad book, tragic, but also beautiful in its own way. You're in a character's head and like you're own head, you can never be quite sure where it's going. But the journey is always interesting.

Katie Kitamura strikes a very impressive balance in A Separation, writing an engrossing novel in a very passive voice. We don't really know her main character, she responds rather than acts, and dialogue isn't set apart with quotation marks. As such, reading A Separation isn't always as easy as reading other books is. You have to work on it, you have to dig into the narrator and see who she is, what she wants. In a way Kitamura here echoes the process of forging a relationship. It is difficult to know who people are, what they hide away, what they're not telling you. So you have to go into it with trust and goodwill, mining every small detail for meaning. She is investigating herself and her emotions, and so are we. I loved this about A Separation because the reader is as much a passive observer of the narrator's relationship as she is in that moment. We are both trying to understand what happened, and how it happened. And there is no perfect, happy end to that query.

I give this book...

4 Universes!

I adored A Separation and couldn't put it down. I was drawn into Kitamura's narrator's mind and  found myself caring. I also realised I was investigating myself as her narrator investigated herself. A Separation is a special book, but also one that is probably not for everyone. I'd recommend it to readers interested in Literary Fiction.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Review: 'Demi-Gods' by Eliza Robertson

I was excited about reading this novel from the moment I saw it. The blurb really grabbed me and I couldn't wait to see how Robertson would bring all these different ideas and themes together. Young Adult and teenage years are rife with potential complications, issues and questions, and I don't think I'm ever going to get tired of reading about it. Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 02/11/2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

A bold debut novel reminiscent of Emma Cline's The Girls; a story of love, lust and the spaces in between, from a 'captivating' (New York Times) new voice in fiction 
It is 1950, and Willa’s mother has a new beau. The arrival of his blue-eyed, sun-kissed sons at Willa’s summer home signals the end of her safe childhood. As her entrancing older sister Joan pairs off with Kenneth, nine-year-old Willa is drawn to his strange and solitary younger brother, Patrick.  
Left to their own devices, Willa is swept up in Patrick’s wicked games. As they grow up, their encounters become increasingly charged with sexuality and degradation. But when Willa finally tries to reverse the trajectory of their relationship, an act of desperation has devastating results. 
Unfolding between the wild freedoms of British Columbia and the glittering beaches of California, Demi-Gods explores a girl’s attempt to forge a path of her own choosing in a world where female independence is suspect. Sensitive, playful and entirely original, Eliza Robertson is one of the most exciting new voices in contemporary literature.
There is something about Demi-Gods that made in "unputdownable" for me. (I know that isn't a word, but let's just roll with it for now!) I was intrigued by the story, by where Robertson would lead us next, what we would discover about the characters as well as ourselves. So I was in deep, in a way. However, there was also something about Demi-Gods that let me sort of drift at the surface. As the reader, you're very much observing these characters. You aren't as immersed in them as in other novels, yet still very engaged with them. The novel is very descriptive and Robertson dedicates a lot of time to observations. You see Willa, Joan, Kenneth and Patrick go through life, make their choices, make their mistakes, and there is something that feels inevitable about it all. Although Demi-Gods is a short read, it doesn't feel like it. It is also quite a weird and upsetting novel, but this shouldn't stop anyone from reading it. Rather, it is something that should recommend it to you.

A big part of the novel is dedicated to the continuous meeting of Willa and Patrick and how their relationship develops over the course of these meetings. As the blurb describes it, their meetings are 'increasingly charged with sexuality and degradation'. Set in the '50s, Robertson shows how aware she is of the strict gender rules that existed and shows her various female characters struggling with these. Willa's encounters with Patrick are a rush, both for her and the reader, a situation in which neither knows exactly what is happening. Yet once they are over, and the reality of what has happened sinks in, there is always the sense of unease, of something not quite right. Analysing the power balance, or rather imbalance, between them is fascinating and it makes Demi-Gods a topical and interesting read. In that sense it is definitely reminiscent of Emma Cline's The Girls, in that both novels look at what happens to girls left alone, girls struggling for some kind of power.

This is Eliza Robertson's debut novel and I'm always wowed by the skill and deftness with which many new authors craft their novels. Demi-Gods sometimes reads like a confessional, as if Willa is unburdening herself to the reader, trying to finally come to term with everything that happened. Robertson weaves the narrative very carefully, using both "real time" and frequent and chronological flashbacks to show what happened. If not welded together properly, this shifting back and forth can be off-putting and confusing. Thankfully it worked really well in Demi-Gods. The writing style might take some time to get used to, as dialogue isn't clearly marked separately from descriptions, but it works very well. The novel very much attempts to capture a feeling or a sense of something, rather than tell a complex story. Demi-Gods has a relatively straightforward plot, yet Robertson explores the slightly uncomfortable yet fascinating time of teen life with aplomb.

I give this novel...

4 Universes!

I really enjoyed reading Demi-Gods. Eliza Robertson dives head first into what it's like to be a teenager, but also deftly analyses gender and power. I definitely can't wait for Eliza Robertson's future novels! I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys Young Adult novels..