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June 2023 book review

Shark Heart: a Love Story, by Emily Habeck Warning, spoilers! When I read the blurb for this book I didn't take the premise too seriously, thinking a story about a man turning into a shark could only be so poignant. How incredibly wrong I was! The book is surreal, weird and wonderful. Shark Heart follows the lives of two characters affected by a medical phenomenon of animal mutation; a gradual onset of symptoms that heralds the complete transformation of a human being into an animal. Recently married, their whole lives ahead, a young couple - Wren and Lewis - realise that Lewis has a Carcharodon carcharias mutation: he's going to turn into a great white shark. The book follows their individual adaptation to this diagnosis, flashing back on occasion to the transformation of Wren's mother into a komodo dragon. While Wren battles to keep Lewis with her, building him a saltwater pool in the garden, enduring Lewis' fading memories and increasingly violent behaviour, Lewis is
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Film review: the Menu

The Menu (2022) Warning, spoilers! I recently watched the Menu, directed by Mark Mylod. I have never written a review for a film before, so bear with me if I haven’t used quite the right format for this sort of thing.  We've all read stories about fine dining experiences that go a bit too far. Three course meals, each consisting of one mouthful of food, leaving guests starving and short a hundred quid. The Michelin-starred restaurant that serves citrus foam which guests have to lick from a plaster mould of the chef's mouth. The Menu takes this feeling of ridiculousness and elevates it, mocking not just the chefs who would offer such food, but also guests who take it seriously.  I went into the film knowing there was a twist and fully expecting that the twist would be that they were all cannibals eating either previous guests or the staff. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say I was half right; the phrase 'eat the rich' feels appropriate.  The

May 2023 book review

  Silver Nitrate, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Warning, spoilers! I really found a gem in this book. Silver Nitrate is a clever, slow-burning horror, which combines old-school cinematography with Nazi occultism in such an effortless match that I’m surprised I haven’t seen it before. You can feel the love of old feature films and ‘90s era technology bleeding from the page, twisted through with hauntings and failed rituals to create a really unique read. The pace was much slower than I was expecting; there’s a steady and considered build-up with nothing particularly supernatural happening until well into the second half. The first part is foundation-laying, and while it could have run the risk of being boring, it kept the balance perfectly between information-gathering, character building and plot momentum. The background film theory, the lore, the film technology of the ‘90s, could have felt like too much exposition, but on the contrary it was one of the highlights of the book for me,

April 2023 book review

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi, by Shannon Chakraborty. Warning, spoilers! This book was a delight from start to finish, I had so much fun reading it. It's a swashbuckling romp that completely took me out of myself; I haven't felt such a feeling of complete escapism in ages, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's fast and it's vibrant, a high seas adventure which reminded me of how it felt to watch old films like Ray Harryhausen's Jason and the Argonauts and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.  Amina Al-Sirafi is a tough, no-nonsense ex-pirate with a moral code and a tongue sharp as steel who has been cajoled into one last adventure over the high seas. She faces down sorcerers, leviathans, and demi-god ex-husbands who have amazing backsides. Her thirst for adventure and the horizon made me wish I could get up and go exploring too. Even so, Amina Al-Sirafi's internal struggles between returning to her ship - to the love of her life, the sea - and remaining safe a