What we’re reading: Mildenhall, Mantel & Godwin

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on, or the music we’re loving.


whenrainre

Tye Cattanach is reading When Rain Turns to Snow by Jane Godwin

When Rain Turns to Snow might just be the most original middle grade novel I have ever read. A premise unlike any other that I can recall, this intriguing mystery introduces an unlikely – but somehow entirely believable – cast of characters that immediately become dear to your heart. It seems every character in this novel is hiding something from someone and keeping secrets that would be much better shared with another. Godwin’s skill at slowly unravelling a story is well demonstrated, as is her uncanny knack for dialogue. Most notable however, is her ability to maintain the taunt suspense that had me turning the pages late into the night until I was done. There was no way I could have slept otherwise. When Rain Turns to Snow is a wonderful novel, perfect for readers 11-14. I can not recommend it highly enough.


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Lian Hingee is reading The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

I’ve been sitting on my copy of The Mirror and the Light since it came out in March. Partially because you don’t dive into a 912 page commitment without a little bit of mental preparation (especially if you have a baby who’s still not sleeping through the night) and partially because I wasn’t sure I was ready to say goodbye to Hilary Mantell’s beautifully rendered depiction of Tudor England. I’ve read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies multiple times, and they’ve never failed to transport me. Mantell’s lyrical, yet somehow prosaic literary style brings the story to life without sacrificing the series' feeling of historical authenticity.

In The Mirror and the Light, Cromwell is inching ever closer to his ignominious end on the executioner’s block, and while I know he was almost certainly not as gentle, kind, caring and witty as Mantell portrays him, I’ve been reading with a terrible creeping sense of dread. Cromwell himself seems to be aware that his meteoric rise in Henry’s Court may be coming to an end – that engineering Anne Bolyen’s execution for his mercurial lord might have turned the solid ground under his feet to quicksand. Much more so than in previous books, his gaze has been turning inward and readers are learning much more about his past, his fears, the grief he carries, and the motivations that drive him. I’m halfway through now, and the remaining pages feel both too many, and too few.


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Nina Kenwood is reading The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall (available September)

I read this book in the space of a couple of days (which, for a parent of a demanding one-year-old, is very very fast, trust me). Set in an imagined future Australia that feels all too close and real, it’s breathlessly fast-paced, unbearably tense, clever, sad, and thrilling, all at once. The second half is especially great, and the very definition of a page-turner. Back in 2016, I loved Mildenhall’s gentle and thoughtful historical fiction debut Skylarking, and although The Mother Fault really couldn’t be more different in plot and style, what does join the two is Mildenhall’s ability to write complex, interesting characters and find the beating heart of a story.

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The Mirror and the Light

The Mirror and the Light

Hilary Mantel

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