I think the last two months have included some of my favourite reads of not just 2018, but all time – September had some great books, and October was no different. Dare I say it, but October perhaps stepped up the game for brilliant reads. I’ve had a slow reading month this November, what with balancing work, trying to do NaNoWriMo, and going on holiday (all good things). Looking back at October is a great reminder of all the fantastic books that are out there, and makes me desperate to go out and find even more (which will have to wait until the next pay check, because Christmas season is crippling me already).
The first book I finished in October was The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. All of my friends were telling me that this is a book that I’d adore, something that I can only remember happening with The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller. Boy, they were not wrong. This is a retelling of the events that occur in the course of Homer’s The Iliad from the perspective of Briseis, the woman who is taken as a slave by the Trojan army and given to Achilles as a war prize. Although Helen is a more household name in terms of familiarity with the legend, as the one who supposedly started the war (men do like to blame women, is one of the many things that this book highlights), it is over the ‘stealing’ of Briseis that Achilles enters a wrathful sulk – the one that kicks of The Iliad. In Pat Barker’s retelling, she focuses in on what happens to the women in the Trojan war and creates a narrative and voice for Briseis, something she does not have in the original text. The characters speak with a modern vernacular, the crude modern day language bringing a new sense of life to the ancient setting and making the old seem far closer than expected. I truly enjoyed this book, and would recommend to all whether you know the original book or not. If I could, I’d prescribe both this book and The Song of Achilles to all.
The next marvel that I devoured in October was Muse of Nightmares by Lani Taylor, the sequel to Strange the Dreamer that I’ve been pining for. Laini Taylor just has an unbeatable imagination, one that I wish I could exist in. She manages to craft worlds – plural – that come to life in all of her books, and somehow link them together so that you have one universe that melds together but maintains unique characteristics in each separate world, each that are so dynamic they each deserve their own story. This is the second series I’ve read by this author, and if possible I love it even more than the first series. The characters are enchanting, the world mesmerising, and the plot kept me flicking through the pages long after I should have put the book down. This series is a wonderful escape for any fantasy lover – and even if you’re not much of a fantasy fan, I dare you to try and read a few lines of Laini’s prose and not to get drawn in.
The third and final book I finished in October was An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. I remember seeing this book when it first came out, and for some reason I didn’t pick it up. Ever since it’s been popping up here and there, taunting me, and after some over-enthusiastic encouragement from a friend I decided to pick it up. To put it simply: I put aside a Sunday and made sure to have no plans so that I could just sit and read this book. I feel all my reviews are the same, but the characters! The world! The plot! All so brilliant, and I’m so very very glad that the rest of the series is published and ready for me to dive into.
And that was my October! As I said, November is off to a slow start but by no means is that due to slow, boring books. I’m also going away for four days this week, which I’m hoping means that I’ll be able to get some seriously good reading done.