HOUSE OF GLASS
by Susan Fletcher, Virago, hardback £16.99, ebook £8.99 HHHHH IT IS summer 1914, and life is changing for Clara Waterfield and England. Hopelessly naive, and mourning her mother, our sheltered narrator is summoned to Gloucestershire to create a greenhouse the country will envy. But at Shadowbrook, mysterious footsteps sound at night, flowers shed their petals within hours, and the master of the house never wanders the sprawling gardens he supposedly loves.
Determinedly atheist, Clara is keen to explain these unnerving goings on, and clear up the rumours swirling around the prior occupants. Who was Veronique, whose malevolent presence is said to haunt the creaking house, and why was her family so hated? These questions unwittingly lead Clara to unearth personal truths she had not expected to confront.
Fletcher skillfully constructs a world where war looms with a heavy inevitability, where rumours twist and strangle like vines, and the most straightforward of scenarios are riddled with deceit.
by Robbie Arnott, Atlantic Books, hardback £12.99, ebook £6.02 HHHHH FLAMES is a bold piece of writing that will leave any reader yearning to visit the wild Australian landscape of Tasmania. Loosely speaking, it tells the story of the McAllister family.
After Charlotte and Levi’s mother dies, she is briefly reincarnated only to burst into flames on their father’s lawn. As Levi begins to worry that the same thing will happen to his sister, he becomes obsessed with building her a coffin. Charlotte meanwhile hits the road, disappearing into the most remote parts of the island.
Each chapter is written in the voice of a different character, some only tangentially connected to the main thread, giving it some of the breadth of a short story collection.
It is glorious, messy, and a bit weird. But it works.