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02 min 
Issue Five & Reviews

Book review: Autonomy

Review by Abby Claridge.

Only a woman can know the visceral desire to end a pregnancy she is experiencing against her will – no man… can ever understand this.’

My biggest struggle with reviewing this text was coming to terms with the fact that I would never be able to capture the profound effect this text will have on each of its readers.

Autonomy asks women, who feel they have ‘enough’ rights, to open their minds. It asks women, who do not have these rights, to feel strength in numbers. It asks men, who have never considered their reproductive privileges, to listen to the woman who is fighting for a voice.

As women we allow so much to be left unsaid and so many injustices pass us by. We are all constant representatives of our sex and this responsibility can feel like a constant weight on each of our shoulders.

In Autonomy Kathy D’arcy gathers the voices of so many women in a discussion they are so often excluded from; the sexualization of women and the restrictions of their reproductive rights.

D’arcy’s careful organisation of the structure of the book allows the reader to embrace each woman’s voice. She so clearly understands that, for some messages, a thousand words are required. While, for others, strength lies in the silence between the lines of a poem.

 Autonomy expresses female emotion in a visceral way and D’arcy achieves this is through the contrast of the various writers’ styles. D’arcy exemplifies a strong understanding of the human capacity for emotion, as she juxtaposes the true recount of the woman travelling to London for an abortion, to the dystopian short story of a woman who is treated as a walking uterus.

In fact, much of Autonomy has taken the social fascination on dystopian tragedies like The Handmaid’s Tale and used this captivation to shine a light on the abuse of woman’s reproductive rights across the globe. D’arcy proves that she understands the strength in creating fear in your readership; as ‘fear’ is essentially a cautious awareness of the future.

Autonomy is both a heartbreaking and essential conversation about what a woman is capable of, versus what she should endure. It reminds its readers of the weight of legislation in Ireland and the strength of the women pushing against it each day.

D’arcy’s text pleads for empathy, understanding and progress. As one of the poem’s enclosed reads,- ‘Don’t make her wait, don’t make that choice for any girl; This is her life, and her world…Treat her as if she were your own little girl. Give her the choice.’

 

For more about this book. 

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02 min 
Issue Five & Reviews

Book review: Watermark by Joanna Atherfold Finn.

Reviewed by Angela Wauchop

  “She reads each word carefully and I follow along in my head. ‘“A particularly fine specimen,”’ she says, her finger drawing an imaginary line under the small print. It is so small that I have to lean in to make out the words. ‘What a strange way to describe her. Like she should be dropped into a jar. Dropped into a jar and kept on a shelf, high up so no-one can reach her.’”

Joanna Atherfold Finn’s first book, ‘Watermark’, is a collection of eleven short stories set in exquisitely depicted coastal areas of Australia. Each piece stands strongly on its own. But as the collection unwinds, familiar names occasionally re-emerge, sometimes years later, throughout the subsequent narratives. The subtle linking of the stories is a satisfying device, with each story building on an often heartbreaking, but sometimes humorous world of characters, locations and observations. It is clear that as a writer, Atherfold Finn is an acute observer, of life, of people and of detail.

‘Lone Shark’ depicts the confronting story of ten-year-old Austin, a boy who struggles with dyslexia. The story, which begins light-heartedly enough, grows increasingly dark and alarming. It becomes apparent that Austin’s dyslexia is not the most troubling aspect of the little boy’s sad and disturbed existence. The story is, however, beautifully told by the author through the voice of a ten-year-old; it is a very effective, yet different voice in contrast to the tone of the strong opening story of ‘Boondi Wars’.

Many of the book’s stories deal with very serious issues, such as emotional and sexual abuse, depression and alcoholism. Yet the stories manage to effortlessly incorporate light-hearted moments of humour and insight, as well as many effectively descriptive depictions of Australian coastal life. In ‘The Neighbours’, Atherfold Finn peppers the story’s sad undertones with warm nostalgia and funny character anecdotes, my favourite of which was the mention of “Fat Cat” from 1980s children’s television fame. It was a laugh-out-loud moment for me when a character who had played the role of Fat Cat, described it as an intense and bitterexperience.

In contrast with ‘Lone Shark’, the story of ‘Jesus Sandals and Anchovette’ is an unusual narrative written in the “second person”. Although the stories are linked, this one is lighter and more innocent, and I particularly enjoyed Atherfold Finn’s spot-on description of a classroom smelling ‘like old honey sandwiches and mandarin peel’. I have indeed been in the annexe of that ancient demountable.

If you’ve ever lived out in the Aussie suburbs or in a middle-class housing development, ‘Oasis Estate’ succinctly and brilliantly spells out your gated community Colorbond nightmare. So true is the experience of the characters in ‘Oasis Estate’ and indeed throughout the whole book, it became apparent to me that Atherfold Finn has not only observed, but she has lived, really lived. She might have even really lived the insanity of an integrated bathroom where ‘steam wafts into the bedroom making everything dank’. I know, right?

I did not expect the final story of ‘Watermark’ to link back to the first story ‘Boondi Wars’ so fittingly and succinctly. ‘An Almost Happy Ending’ sheds unexpected clarity and light on the emotional and sandy water-themed introduction and beachy overtones of the entire book. Joanna Atherfold Finn cleverly concludes ‘An Almost Happy Ending’ a few paragraphs before a less bold and confident writer would end it, leaving me—the reader—looking forward to anything Joanna Atherfold Finn comes up with next.

 

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02 min 
Issue Five & Reviews

Book review: Dying & Other Stories By Eugen Bacon

Reviewed by Angela Wauchop

‘Did you want me to teach you about galaxies and how a sprinkle of magic could keep them efficient? Did you want me to clap my hands and say: Look at this world. Isn’t it beautiful?’ Zhorr pressed his hands together. ‘This, my son, concludes our history session.’—A Maji Maji Chronicle

Dying & Other Stories is a collection of 16 short narratives by Australian author and 2017 Aurealis Convenors Award for Excellence nominee Eugen Bacon. True to speculative fiction’s promise to make the reader ask, ‘what if?’, Dying & Other Stories goes beyond the limitations of literary definition and expectation. Each story in the collection is vastly different from the next—in voice, setting and length. Yet the book comprises an assemblage of narratives that flow seamlessly from one to the other, with snappy dialogue and striking imagery that roll off the tongue and widen the reader’s eyes.

The first story in the collection asks what if some of the people we pass in the street aren’t people at all? This opening narrative, ‘Dying’, depicts the suffering and frustration of protagonist Bluey, whose life begins to unravel into a frustrating mess of daily deaths and inevitable resurrections. Bluey begins to suspect that the boy he sees riding a scooter on the street might actually be a colleague of the angel of death. ‘Dying’ raises the question: is free will really a thing? Are you sure?

In ‘A Nursery Rhyme’, the character Venulearns the disturbing truth about her little girl, Dee. The child’s paternity and the disquieting circumstances of her conception come to light. Bacon prompts the reader to peer around a crooked corner of reality and ask what if your child isn’t who or what you think? What if her soul is impure, and her actions bloody and malevolent? I wondered how far a person might go to protect someone or something they love.

In fact, Bacon asks the reader how far reality television might go in the story ‘Realtime TV’. Aspects of the story had me asking myself if one of my favourite TV genres already goes too far. In ‘Realtime TV’, a voice in an earpiece instructs a father to pull a knife on his son. The narrative parallels the Bible’s Genesis story of Abraham and Isaac, and had me considering, for a moment, that I just might be an unknowing participant in the universe’s longest-running reality show—again—what if, what if?

‘A Maji Maji Chronicle’ presents the story of Zhorr and his son Pickle, time-travelling, inter-dimensional shapeshifting beings. Zhorr and Pickle are observers of history; they travel between universes to study the nature of humanity and existence. ‘A Maji Maji Chronicle’ compels the reader to consider the uncomfortable, even frightening idea that people, when put to the test, are all the same.

History, mythology and modern-day Aussie life intertwine in Bacon’s Dying & Other Stories. I found that each piece in the collection, whether long or short, is not over until you read the very last word. The reader’s anticipation remains until that final sentence is revealed, absorbed, digested. But if what you’re seeking are neatly wrapped answers tied with a ribbon, Dying & Other Stories of course won’t give you that. It is simply a book that delivers. It will present you with 16 narratives that are satisfying, mind-bending and thought-provoking reads.

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02 min 
Genres & Issue Five & Reviews

Book review: Thirteen Wicked Tales

Review by Kathryn Lamont

From alien planets to medieval battles, athletes to clones, Eugen Bacon and E. Don Harpe’s collection of literary speculative fiction, Thirteen Wicked Tales, tackles a wide variety of places, people and themes in thirteen bite sized pieces: easy for any book lover to devour on the go.

While each tale is different and exists as a standalone piece, all centre around peculiarity, uncanniness: situations one could only imagine in their most bizarre dreams. Short stories vary in length, so while fourteen pages outline a tale of time travel, girls and a planet in dire need for new offspring, a mere three pages explore a backwards individual sentenced to banishment and the Earthling desperately lusting after them. This variation in length works perfectly for people who pick out stories to fill in variant gaps of time (which, as an assignment writing university student, worked perfectly for me).

Even if speculative fiction isn’t your most well-versed genre, I found that there was something rooted in each story that made it easy to understand and be very readable, such as the rich cast of likeable characters I could personally invest in. Things are also painted in such vivid detail; the description of otherworldly beings and landscapes so visceral at times it’s almost like a movie. The writing in this collection can easily be noted as exceptional. I also enjoyed the quick pace of each work. In fact, there were times when I could see the end coming up in a mere page or two and couldn’t fathom how it could all possibly be tied up in a few paragraphs, but was pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns in each original ending.

Indeed, originality is a big stand out for this collection. Aside from following typical generic conventions, Eugen Bacon and E. Don Harpe collaborate brilliantly to create thirteen speculative pieces that each take a new turn down another original and exciting train of thought. Twists and turns that I never saw coming unfolded in a matter of sentences, sometimes leaving me gasping at the page. As a reader very much in love with the idea of having some semblance of a conclusion, I also thoroughly enjoyed the way each piece seemed to circle back around to the beginning to tie everything up in a big, satisfying bow.

I did find, however, that one does need to be tuned in at all times while reading this anthology, unless they are unopposed to going back and re-reading passages. Due to length, speculative content, and the fragmented nature of the short stories, one misread or missed sentence could lead to confusion later down the track. As someone new to short stories, let alone speculative fiction, I initially thought the fragmented gaps in the pieces were almost jarring at times – too big – but soon found a rhythm to the jumps, and, a layer of subtle detail in each piece that answers the questions one cannot go without knowing the answers to. Things are rarely spelled out for you, which I found refreshing, but that also accounted to the need to read things carefully and mindfully, lest you miss an important line.

Overall, there is something in this collection for anyone who has interests in anything fantastical, extra-terrestrial, otherworldly, or, futuristic. Thirteen Wicked Tales contains thirteen different universes, all ripe and ready for exploring.

 

 

 

 

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02 min 
Issue Five & Reviews

Book Review: The Monster Apprentice

Reviewed by Ziqi Yue

The Monster Apprenticeis a fantasy novel that explores the themes of courage, friendship and love. Written by Felicity Banks, a Canberra author specializing in fantasy and interactive fiction, the text includes captivating descriptions of mythical creatures, pirates, conflict and a young girl’s quest to save her home.

The Monster Apprenticetells a story that a girl named Dance, who lives in an ice island with her family and friends. When pirates come to the island, and the people are frightened because they have no way to fight, Dance decision to try to save her home sends her on a journey of courage, survival and personal growth.

While the conflict with the pirates – who attempt to invade the island – is a main plotline of this story, it creates a backdrop of the reader to observe the Dance’s ability to thrive in the most brutal of circumstances. Furthermore, the plot also focuses on Dance’s change and growth during the process. Like so many other teenagers, she has some conflict with her parents and wants to prove herself to them. The relationship between Dance and her friends are always changing as well. While everyone has their own secrets, they still love each other and attempt to maintain their friendships. Young readers, especially, will be able to resonate with the plot as it mirror’s so many elements of young adulthood.

One moment of the book that I personally empathized with was a conversation between Dance and her dad; after she has broken her neighbor’s window. Rather than being allowed to escape punishment, her father states: ‘This is where I tell you that you’ll be paying for it yourself. In full.’ This is exactly what adults do: take responsibility for their own behavior; regardless of their intent. It reminded me of my own parents, who have said the same words to me.

Banks’ writing, within this novel, is both beautiful and vivid. ‘The night air was hot and still. My sheets lay in a crumpled heap on the floor. At the open window my curtains hung in unmoving black lines. No wind slid through to ease the stifling heat. My long black hair felt heavy around my head. I didn’t dare move.’ Furthermore, Banks showed the intelligence of a seasoned author to portray Dance’s emotions and inner thoughts.; like nervousness and anxiety. She clearly made a conscious effort to ensure the reader absorbs the humanness of Dance. Like Dance, we have all grown up with parental love and the company of friends. The things we meet, and the memories we make along the way, decide who we are. We might not face the same fantastical struggles as Dance, but we have all felt the same heartbreak, conflict and bravery she felt between the pages of The Monster’s Apprentice.

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02 min 
Issue Five & Reviews

Book review: Jules Grant’s We Go Around in the Night and are Consumed by Fire

Reviewed by Angela Wauchop.

“Knock people’s places down, just makes them cling on harder. Then you got people clinging on to dreams, and you can’t ever fight that. […] Cut something back just makes it grow thicker and faster, Carla says, but I guess no one ever told the police that.”

We Go Around in the Night and are Consumed by Fire is British author Jules Grant’s first novel. Set in modern times in Manchester, England, Grant’s first offering of urban fiction grittily portrays the lives of the central character, Donna, and her ten-year-old god-daughter, Aurora. Both are caught up in or affected by organised crime, gang violence and poverty in a not very nice part of town.

After I began reading the book, I very quickly noticed unusual things about this fast-paced and absorbing narrative. The book is written in present tense, which is a clever tactic by which Grant immediately immerses the reader into the story, its action and setting. The story switches between Donna and Aurora’s narration. They have distinct but incredibly authentic and likeable… even lovable… voices.

From the onset, I noticed words we don’t use in Australia. What the heck is a ginnel? Turns out it’s an alleyway. At first the new words and colloquialisms were disconcerting, along with the complete absence of any quotation marks throughout the entire story. But I persevered, and soon became accustomed to the style and voice of the novel, and the fantastic pace afforded by such writing methods.

In the spirit of urban fiction, Grant presents the reader with many confronting issues. In the same spirit, Grant unapologetically bombards the reader with the introduction of several characters throughout the book. Fortunately, the number of characters is not too overwhelming, and they are necessary to present the book’s many uncomfortable themes and images.

If urban fiction is meant to be gritty… gritty is what you get. We Go Around in the Night and are Consumed by Fire deals with grit such as torture, murder and violence, as well as the heartbreaking effects of poverty on children and families. Despite her gang associations and life in organised crime, Donna, a lesbian in her late twenties is smart, likeable, real and extremely loyal. When the story’s narration shifts to ten-year-old Aurora, the incredible authenticity of the little girl’s voice both delights and heartbreakingly dismays.

The book is peppered with flashbacks, which propel the story rather than hinder it, and add to its incredible momentum. Beautiful and relatable descriptions also feature throughout the story. A particularly moving one: “Me, I like the way it makes me feel when I sit here. Gives me a wide-open feeling, like there’s no doubt about it, there’s something beyond. I get the same thing at the airport, and Piccadilly station. Things moving, people going somewhere. Things rolling forward somehow. You can’t beat it.” How authentic and effective this snippet makes you feel, like you’ve lived it… like you’ve been there!

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02 min 
Issue Five & Reviews

Book Review: The Earth Does Not Get Fat by Julia Prendergast

Review by Nik Shone.

This is a book you should 100% add to your collection. It is above all a story of love and a journey to find the truth behind closed doors.

Julia Prendergast’s debut novel The Earth Does Not Get Fat is a carefully crafted and beautiful piece of Australian literature. In a work that bares the hardships experienced by real people and how that suffering can be spread through generations, Prendergast writes her characters with total affection and an undeniable talent for revealing the brutal realities of their lives. We see in this novel what life can be like for people affected by trauma and dementia, and the series of complicated emotions experienced by the teenage Chelsea when she becomes the full time carer for not only her mother, but her grandfather as well. Chelsea does this all out of love and shows a deep attachment to the both of them and an intrinsic personal need to do it all on her own. Prendergast does not shy from the gritty details of Chelsea’s life as a carer and she does not hesitate to deliver that sense of heartbreak to her readers.

She can’t get up for days at a time and her hair is greasy and her breath is bad. She can’t talk to you and her eyes can’t look at you. And her skin is yellow and wrong. Promise me you won’t think she’s disgusting and horrible. She’s my mum. You can’t be mean to her because she can’t help that she looks revolting…You can’t judge her, please. She looks whacked out and disgusting. You have to remember that she’s really beautiful. (p65-68)

The Earth Does Not Get Fat explores typical Australian attitudes and ways of life. And does so in such a way that mirrors Australian life and culture. Chelsea seeks the truth of her mother’s past. She is driven by her love for her family and her will to do the best she can by them despite living under difficult circumstances. The reader is taken on a journey with Chelsea as she learns the truth of her family’s past and of events that changed the course of their lives. Prendergast delivers the story in a realistic Australian voice with a careful love for words and a promise to reveal the horrible truths of this family’s life toward an understanding of their suffering.

The Earth Does Not Get Fat is above all else a story of love. A behind-closed-doors love that shows the unwavering resilience and support Chelsea gives to her mother and her Grandpa. Chelsea sets out to uncover the truth of her family and the traumatic secrets left buried at sea. The story takes the reader behind the curtain into Chelsea’s world and the reader learns with her the secrets of her mother’s life as she patiently listens to the painful, barefaced stories of her past.

 

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03 min 
Issue Five & Reviews

Book review: Dark Matters by Susan Hawthorne.

By Madeleine Reid.

Dark Matters is a terrifying, yet beautiful novel by the Australian writer, Susan Hawthorne, published by the feminist and contemporary Spinifex Press, in 2017. It deals with the issues of homophobia, love, family, female heroism and terror.

This unique book defies categorisation. It is a work of literary fiction, with a side of horror, crime, and mystery. It is even dystopian at times.

It is a moving, post-modern novel about the disappearance and death of Kate, a lesbian who falls victim to a hate crime. The story is set in Australia, South America and Europe, and is told through three narrators: Mercedes, Kate and Desi.

We are first introduced to Mercedes, whose apt nick-name is Merci. The double meaning of ‘thank you’ in French and ‘mercy’ in English, as Kate retreats mercifully into memories with her partner.

Kate and Mercedes were in a relationship and Desi is Kate’s niece. In a secret dawn raid, Kate is abducted by unknown government officials in Australia and put in prison. Kate narrates through her prison diaries, the torture, beatings and rape she endures. Desi tries to understand Kate’s life by reading papers and tracking down Mercedes’ history too.

The novel moves almost randomly back and forth in time from before and after Kate’s death. Hawthorn also cleverly uses Kate’s numbered journal entries as hints of chronology, which chillingly evoke the ways in which the torture is changing Kate’s character.

The title alone indicates the depth of the novel. Dark Matters. As in Dark Matter that makes up the majority of the universe. We know it is there, and we can observe its gravitational pull but haven’t been able to access it directly or figure out what it is. In the wake of formal marriage equality for gay people, the kidnap and torture of Kate is a startling articulation of the ‘evident and invisible’ anti-gay structures that lurk beneath our cultural surface [quote is from Foucault, The Order of Things1970]. Hawthorne’s confronting book makes one wonder at the horrific possibilities beyond the scope of legislated equality; let us not forget that one in three Australians opposed it in the plebiscite.

Hawthorne opts to leave the page headers blank of her name and chapter titles, allowing the reader no escape – beyond the unavoidable numbering of pages – from the captivating discomforts she provides. Her short, declarative sentences enable the reader to forget themselves and imbibe the heady, bitter story without effort.

Even the book’s cover is captivating. Far from the generic photos of random people or figures to which I have become accustomed, it is a work of art in its own right. It features a black background, with pink text, white and black lines, red and black dots.  The swirls, lines and dots are mitochondrial DNA.

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Deb Snibson’s design uses an image by Susan Bellamy.

To me this book is an amazing and individual way of exploring intense social issues. It makes connections to what happened to the Lesbians in Nazi Germany, and also what is still happening today in countries where lesbian’s freedom is not protected like it is in Australia.

I admire how she dealt with such horror filled themes that disgusted and engaged me as a reader at the same time. She manages to add some beauty to all this dark matter.

It has definitely left me in a different place. My understanding and experiences are expanded and clearer. For this, I highly recommend reading Dark Matters.

Lastly, I would like to put a disclaimer out to readers with their own traumas or experiences, to tread carefully. This novel confronts and challenges – and bravely deals with issues which may leave some disturbed.

 

 

 

http://www.spinifexpress.com.au/Bookstore/book/id=297/

 

 

 

 

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01 min 
Issue Five & Reviews

Book review: Dark Matter by Robin Morgan

Review written by Nik Shone

In her new collection, Dark Matter, Robin Morgan explores themes that have been prevalent throughout her life as she details her experiences in ageing and her diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The collection starts with her beautiful poem, The Magician and The Magician’s Assistant where she invites the reader into her thoughts and her sense of self. Much of the collection invites the reader to look at their perceptions of ageing and death and focuses on her love of poetry and words. Morgan has a keen awareness of mortality but explores the ideas and themes of death, rather as themes of life, claiming that it is joy that makes dying hard, as it is easy to let go when you are in pain, but not so much when you are witnessing the sweetness the world has to offer.

Through her collection, Morgan explores the woman she was once sure of, and the person she is becoming through her experience. She focusses very much on how her illness has changed her and how much she is growing into herself through her experience with Parkinson’s disease, and in the wisdom she has gained through growing small and continuing to grow older.She explores what she finds interesting, ironic, funny, and riling through her poems and gives the reader important lessons through her talent for playing with words and her unique human experience. But she also highlights what does not make her unique in her experience of being a woman, wherein a podcast about the collection she describes that if you are born a woman in a patriarchal society, you are going to have bad experiences, which she relates highly to the recent #metoo and Time’s Up movements.

Robin hones her craft through these pages and has said herself that she thinks this is her best published poetry collection to date. She chooses her words with careful thought and explores her ideas passionately. Her love for poetry inspires a beautiful sense of wonder and awe in this poet and ignites a fire in the feminist in us all. Dark Matter by Robin Morgan is an absolute masterpiece and should be shared with everyone willing to listen.

 

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02 min 
Issue Three & Reviews

A Review of Anthony O’Neill’s ‘Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Seek’.

Reviewed by Oscar O’Neill-Pugh.

“If he be Mr. Hyde, I shall be Mr. Seek”.

As I went to start working on my first book review, I found myself looking towards my bookshelf. An old paperback copy of ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ stared back and I nodded at it in approval. I opened the newly arrived proof of ‘Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Seek’ and started a journey I had no idea I’d needed. In a decade seemingly obsessed with reboots, reunions, remakes and sequels, very few make the return trip worth traveling. What so many of these rehashes fail at delivering is validity. A remake or reboot should feel warranted. Ideally, it would pay homage to the original mythos, engage it in a new and thought provoking way, make it seem perfectly in-line with that property and all the while be well executed. Anthony O’Neill’s ‘Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Seek’ excels on all these fronts. It is a journey that needs to be travelled.

Set seven years after ‘disappearance’ of Dr. Henry Jekyll and the death of Edward Hyde, ‘Dr. Jekyll’ & Mr. Seek’ follows Gabriel Utterson –  the good doctor’s faithful friend, lawyer and ultimately, confidant. Set to take possession of Jekyll’s estate, Utterson is thrown into disarray when a charming gentleman swoops in, claiming to be none other than Jekyll. Of course, this must be the work of an imposter as both the reader and Utterson know that Jekyll was Hyde. However, himself being Jekyll’s sole confidant, Utterson can only look on in horror as this imposter goes about convincing old friends that Jekyll has returned. When mysterious ‘accidents’ start killing off potential doubters and challengers, Utterson is thrown into a frenzy to prove the truth, while not discrediting Jekyll’s name and memory. The reader follows Utterson as he finds his friends turning against him, begins to fear for his life and ultimately, question his own sanity.

Originally, I aimed to write notes and take the book a few chapters at a time, but O’Neill’s masterful use of paranoia, suspense and mystery made me forget my pen and paper even existed. What was supposed to be the first few chapters soon became a full read through. Once I began, I simply couldn’t stop. Anthony O’Neill creates a wonderful narrative that constantly keeps a reader engaged; doubting, questioning and guessing at every turn. The title, taken from a quote from Utterson in the original, illustrates the story a reader is taken on. Even for those who have limited knowledge of, or haven’t read the original, this is a book for you. Without feeling intrusive, O’Neill perfectly blends in recaps, throwbacks and memories from the original story, aiding a new reader without stepping on the coattails of those familiar. As an avid reader, I can say that Anthony O’Neill has written a marvellous story with a fantastic use of language that makes the novel feel authentic to its time period. As a fan of Robert Louis Stevenson’s original, I can also say that ‘Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Seek’ serves as a true sequel to the original, and a near perfect one at that. It is well worth your penny dreadful.