Now that students are done with the academic year, we finally get to read books that we want to, not ones that we have to for our courses. Now The Edge writers give you our recommendations of what should be on your summer reading list.
Stormfront – Jim Butcher
The first in Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, The Dresden Files, Stormfront introduces the wizrd Harry Dresden and set the tone for the rest of the series with aplomb.
What makes this novel fantastic and well worth a read is the quality of the writing and dialogue. Butcher knows how to write characters, and he writes them well. The novel is from Harry’s perspective, which puts the reader inside his sardonic and sarcastic mind. Harry’s snarkiness pulled me into the novel immediately, and the narrative kept me guessing throughout as Harry investigates his various cases. Multiple elements of fantasy are woven together with the central facets of crime fiction, creating a text which keeps you guessing, while still putting new twists on old creatures. There are many different types of fae, wizards use both evocation and ritual, and there are three different ‘courts’ of vampire with their own distinct characteristics. A fabulous start to a gratifyingly long series, Stormfront will have you desperate to read more from Butcher, and more about Harry Dresden. By Rebecca James.
Joyland – Stephen King
Stephen King’s new novel is a beautifully written coming-of-age story about a young man who gets a summer job at a fairground. It’s part-ghost story, part-murder mystery, all perfectly tied together by a beguiling first-person narration.
As well as addressing issues such as self-identity and romance, the novel also attempts to look behind the concept of memory – what is it that makes certain experiences, some jobs, people, summers the most memorable in our lives? Is it good to look back and dwell on these things. King masterfully handles both the poignancy of regret and the optimism of youth in this touching and compelling read. By Barnaby Walter.
The Devil All The Time – Donald Ray Pollock
In his sophomore effort, following short story collection Knockemstiff, Donald Ray Pollock weaves a tapestry of haunting, repellent and moving stories around two small towns in Ohio and West Virginia. The actions is spread not just across locations, but decades, and encompasses a variety of rich, engaging characters: a war veteran unable to help his ailing wife, their son, a murderous couple, and a degenerate preacher to name but a few. Though not for the fainthearted, The Devil All The Time is visceral, brutal prose, where actions are far more important than words. With elements of thriller, horror, tragedy and dark comedy, it’s bound to have something you’re looking for. By Sam Everard.
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Marquez’s saga centering on the establishment of a fictional South American town sometime in the 19th century may not seem the lightest summery read, but is in fact a rich tapestry of human experience expressed as poignantly as I have ever encountered in literature. Published in the 1960’s, it spans generations of a family living in Macondo, a metaphoric Colombia, describing with beautiful, hauntingly atmospheric prose the lives of the townspeople and their relationships, passions and ultimately their fates.
It may take a bit of getting into, especially as the main family constantly name children after their ancestors (thus making it difficult to follow) but it is wholly, wholly worth it. My favourite book. By Cat Olley.
The White Queen – Philippa Gregory
The White Queen is the first in Philippa Gregory’s novels detailing the history of the women involved in the Wars of the Roses. Telling the little known story of Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of King Edward IV, The White Queen is dramatic, engaging and emotionally effecting.
Philippa Gregory is a fantastic author, and her historical fiction is consistently captivating. Her strength is in giving voices to women who have traditionally been ignored or pushed aside in favour of their male counterparts. Yet, as this novel shows, the women’s stories are just as important. I would argue that this series is superior to Gregory’s stories detailing the lives of the women surrounding the Tudor court. With the BBC television series based on the series of novels now on the BBC, now is the perfect time to discover this superb author. By Rebecca James.