Dark fantasy and suspense
The Mere Wife
By Maria Dahvana Headley Scribe, $29.99
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Willa is the first lady of Herot Hall. Her life revolves around social events, her husband and her son, Dylan.
Dana Mills is an ex-soldier whose beheading by terrorists was shown on TV. But somehow she escaped death, the terror cell and her ultimate rescuers.
Back in America she discovers she is pregnant. She returns to her turangawaewae and hides out in the caves that run under the mountain at the back of Herot Hall until her son is born. She continues to live there as Gren grows into a boy.
Willa is ignorant of Dana’s existence, and Dana avoids any contact to safeguard her son. Once Gren is old enough to roam the mountain on his own, however, he is irresistibly attracted to Dylan, and then all hell breaks loose.
The two mothers are pitted against one another in a battle to the end.
Headley has based this novel on the Old English classic, Beowulf, telling the story from the point of view of the women in the story, rather than the men. She retains the toxic masculinity, violent colonisation, yearning for power and heroic lawbreaking of the original tale, but places them in a setting that is relevant to contemporary society.
Her language is vivid and compelling and, by using the voices of several of the characters, she is able to convey their different perspectives on the narrative as it unfolds.
If you are a fan of dark fantasy and suspense, then you will love this book.
— Lynda Stallworthy
Love Will Tear Us Apart By Holly Seddon Allen & Unwin, $45
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Holly Seddon has made a huge impression since she debuted with her first novel, Try Not to Breath ,in 2016, followed by last year’s equally impressive Don’t Close your Eyes.
Once again in Love Will Tear Us Apart, Holly’s ability to make relationships leap off the page is evident from page one.
Kate and Paul have been married 10 years, after their childhood friendship was rekindled when they met again aged 30.
To everyone, they seem like the perfect couple — Paul with his highflying job, two perfect kids. It seems like Kate has the world at her fingertips.
But that’s not how she feels. Inside she is almost broken and feels extremely insecure.
When we learn of the back-story to their marriage, it is sort of understandable.
Despite any evidence to support her suspicions, Kate believes Paul is having an affair which, given the circumstances of their reconnecting and marriage, can’t be dismissed out of hand.
Eventually the truth is faced and how Seddon handles the intensity of Kate and Paul’s relationship and its challenges make for an interesting conclusion.
— Tony Nielsen