About the Book by D. D. Johnston
Claire Wilson knows what she saw: on the eighth floor of a derelict tower block, a woman was bottle-feeding a baby. But why would anyone take a baby into a boarded-up tower block? In an area of Manchester plagued by unexplained tragedies, the only allies Claire can find are a pagan witch, a wild-child party girl, and a husband with too many secrets.
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On Sunday morning at 9:15 a.m., Claire was escorted to Interview Room 3. She was relieved to be out of the cell but self-conscious about her stale breath and unwashed body. Her jeans smelled of damp, and dried blood covered her right hand where she had grazed her knuckles kayaking.
And then it occurred to her, as she was waiting alone in the interview room, how ridiculous these thoughts were. What did it matter? So much of her life she had spent caring about the wrong things: what did it matter whether she had stale breath? What difference did it really make if her bra was visible through her shirt? Why did she care about her BMI or her… underarm fat. Underarm fat! Who even decided such a thing should be added to the catalogue of female worries? It was all absurd. She remembered that as she was being driven to the police station, her hands cuffed behind her back, among her many terrors was the thought that she might be strip-searched. As much as she feared the violence of the act, she had also worried because her legs were unshaved and it had been ages since she’d attended to her bikini line. What a moment at which to worry about depilation! ‘Who cares?’ she said aloud. ‘Who cares?’
Reviewed by Felita Daniels /288 Pages
You can’t deny that the title of the book in conjunction with the genre is a bit creepy. I did play with blocks like on the cover of this novel. Did you once upon a time?
The writing in this novel is solid, but the tension could have been improved upon. Characters are flawed but well drawn. Many might say they didn’t like the husband, but Claire contributed to the lackluster marriage in my opinion too. “Claire couldn’t think what colour Dan’s eyes were.” When a new neighbor says “He’s nice.” Claire replied “Not if you have to live with him.” This is something she says to someone she just met!
So there’s a journey here of Claire trying to get people to believe her that there’s a problem in the neighborhood. Can she convince others? Can she convince her husband and gain his help? I will tell you that I really enjoyed the ending, especially the last sentence.
About the Author
D.D. Johnston’s first novel, Peace, Love, & Petrol Bombs, was a Sunday Herald Book of the Year in 2011 and is published in Spanish as Paz, amor y cócteles molotov. His experimental second novel, The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub, was a 2013 book of the year in The Morning Star, where it was described as “determinedly extraordinary”. He lives in Cheltenham, UK, and works at the University of Gloucestershire, where he is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing and a University Teaching Fellow. In his spare time he runs the OnlineWritingTips.com website.