My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Being the ‘book-cover-judger’ that I am, I dived into this thinking I’d be devouring its bookishness with relish. After all, what bibliophile could resist that cover?! The premise of an Indie Bookstore that opens until midnight, and a ‘BookFrog’ who has committed suicide amongst the books.
“Lydia’s skills as a bookseller came mainly, she believed, from her ability to listen. A raging case of bibliophilia certainly helped, as did limited financial needs, but it was her capacity to be politely trapped by others that really sealed her professional fate”.
I really wanted to love this. I so did. But I just felt so detached from it a lot of the time. I knew it wasn’t going to be a barrel of laughs, but there was absolutely no escape from the morbid scenarios at any point, and it started to drag me down.
This is wavering between 3 stars and 3.5 stars. It gets an average three, based on the fact that this was one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read and I was glad when it was over. But I have to squeeze in that extra half a star because it was a cleverly written book that had an intensity to keep me interested. Not gripped or excited. Just interested.
As I headed to the quarter of the way mark, intriguing little cryptic bookish clues started to really pique my interest. But I still felt a niggling distance from it that I just couldn’t shake off.
The story was engulfed with a dark sadness, the characters felt a tad unfinished, and I thought there were some holes that needed to be filled with things other than bleak and slushy weather visuals and people’s grotty clothing descriptions.
It was hard work at times, but I trudged through, because it was no way a DNF. It wasn’t anywhere near bad enough for that.
I enjoyed the way the two narratives combined, Lydia as a thirty-something and Lydia as a ten year old. Her younger self was very well portrayed, the child perspective being very believable and well written.
To conclude, I’d shelve this book ‘on the fence’, because that’s exactly where I’m sat regarding my opinions and thoughts. I can’t say much more about it other than it’s upsetting and violent. It was not at all what I expected.
I’d like to thank the publisher, Random House UK and the author, Matthew Sullivan for the opportunity to read this, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.