What we're reading: Huang, Islington & Flanagan

Each week our amazing staff bring you a sample of the books or music they're immersed in.

Aurelia Orr is reading Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang

When our unnamed protagonist's parents become debilitated from a horrible accident, she is eager to take any job that pays well, including a position in the glamorous beauty company Holistik. The luxury and allure of working at Holistik is at first the most pampered and beautiful she has ever felt before. But when does beauty cross into pain?  

Natural Beauty is a spine-tingling anatomy into race, identity, consumerism, and the beauty and cosmetic industry. Although this is a work of fiction, it nevertheless tells the story of how for centuries women have scoured every weird, expensive and sometimes even painful 'treatment' to find the secret to 'natural beauty', and how the beauty and cosmetic industries can take advantage of this for their own dark intentions.

Natural Beauty unveils the disturbingly invasive and unsettling truth of the horrors forced onto the female body, and how far we are willing to sacrifice who we are for the sake of perfection. Imagine if American Psycho and The Stepford Wives made a horror baby together – that would be Natural Beauty!

Alicia is reading The Will of the Many by James Islington

The first volume in a new Roman-inspired fantasy series, The Will of the Many follows the story of Vis, an Anastasia-type prince from a conquered country as he tries to survive within the harsh empire that killed his entire family. He gets recruited to infiltrate a high level academy to discover the truth about a past student's mysterious death.

The first half of the book was good, though a bit slow, however once Vis enters the academy the story becomes the most high-octane, twisting and turning magical conspiracy I have ever read. I stayed up all night to finish it and had to pick my jaw up off the ground once I was done.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys adult high fantasy. The magic system and world building felt up there with some of the best in the genre. Plus, it is written by an Australian author. The only bad thing is I have to wait at least a year to read book 2!

Kate McIntosh is reading The Empty Honour Board: A School Memoir by Martin Flanagan

A book about a Catholic boarding school in Tasmania in the 1960s and the abuse that took place there, should be grim, and uncomfortable to read, and sad, and this one is all of those things. But because it is Martin Flanagan (sportswriter, novelist and poet) writing this story, it is also moving and reflective and ultimately, hopeful.

Cover image for Natural Beauty

Natural Beauty

Ling Ling Huang

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