Slow Poison by Helen Slavin – a powerful book with a fantastic element
This book is a sequel, but it is in no way a lesser book than its predecessor, “Crooked Daylight”. In many ways it is a stronger book, with more magical fantasy and compulsive readability. It is a book in which solidly reveals people in their world of employment, school, relationships and ordinary preoccupations, against a growing sense that there is far more going on that cannot be easily understood and therefore dealt with by the Way Sisters and their allies. Mystical happenings and human nature bring a truly disturbing outcome for a small community, with the causes and outcomes being far from clear. This is a tale of our times, but with large slices of mystery, courage and special strengths combining to create a very special novel. I was grateful to receive a copy of this special book from the publishers.
Anna, Charlie are three sisters who live in a small community. Each has their own story, with Anna having suffered a grievous loss, Charlie working through difficult relationships and Emz discovering that being a sixth former with a secret life can be tough. The have recently come to realise that their much loved, late grandmother, Hettie, had spent years showing them that their now jointly owned cottage and adjoining wood was an extremely important, both as a place of sanctuary and source of power as they work as Gamekeepers. Each girl is coming to terms with their own Strengths, powers which defy rational explanation. At the beginning of this novel a stranger, an unusual girl turns up with a strange and dramatic burden. As they try to deal with this challenge, another visitor to the area brings a whole new dimension to life in the town. A community event is disrupted, with an almost tragi comic outcome. The sisters find themselves tested beyond their own expectations, and they find support from those closest to them as terrible events threaten to explode. The natural world, the supernatural invasion and the intelligence of the sisters must combine to create answers to unformed questions, and battles must be fought.
This is the sort of book which almost defies classification and easy description, but is a gripping read that kept me thoroughly engaged, as I wanted to find out what would happen next. It worked for me because it is so understated in its setting and language, never overly dramatic but strongly rooted in human experience. It is not a great literary experience, but works on many levels to create believable situations and powerful images which linger in the mind. Its achievement is to keep the fantastic rooted in the real, even when not everything is explained. It is so engaging that it is difficult to put on one side, as it creates its own momentum on lots of levels. It is a book of powerful women, feminine mutual support, and the immense strength which can emerge on a fantastic level. A book which is far from the usual, and is dramatic in an immensely controlled way. Well worth finding.
Meanwhile a coffee morning at the Vicarage has raised over £300 for the Macmillan charity,and there was a trailer for the Big Book Sale in aid of Book Aid in the form of many books for sale. Let’s hope for much money raised! So far I avoided the cake, but as it is so plentiful I am not such that my resolution will hold for much longer… Meanwhile, we hit three bookshops in York yesterday, so some new acquisitions to investigate are calling, but other things must be done first!