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Two by the same author today…

I confess that by the time I finished reading Then late last night, I was pretty much a nervous wreck. It’s my own fault really – my taste for apocalyptic fiction doesn’t make for pleasant dreams. This story is one that is uncomfortable to read but compelling, and it’s definitely affected my mood all day, as I contemplate the full horror of it. It’s narrated by a nameless woman who lives in the wreckage of contemporary London, hiding, with other survivors of the global environmental catastrophe, in a ruined office building. Her experiences have traumatised her so much she has no memory of her life before the disaster, except for fragments that appear in the form of hallucinations. She often can’t remember who her companions are, and the days are jumbled and confused, her sanity blown completely away. But through the wreckage of her thoughts the reader can start to pull together the truth about what has happened to her, and as the picture starts to coalesce, the absolute horror is revealed. Although you can foresee some of it, the force of the ending is breathtaking, and leaves you reassessing everything that has gone before. This is genuinely a book that will haunt you – the style is simultaneously dreamlike yet immediate, like the sudden wearing off of morphine to unleash the agony of evisceration. Unforgettable, horrible, and deeply moving – I’m glad I read it, and I recommend it, but make sure you feel strong enough first. Rating: *****

Vintage, 2012, ISBN 9780099554721

And here’s one I read earlier… Out of Breath is a magical, tragic story of lost innocence.Thirteen year-old Flynn has an unhappy home life, so when her brother Sam gets into trouble, she’s quick to persuade Sam to run away with her and Alex, a homeless boy she’s encountered at the bottom of her garden. What she doesn’t bargain for is Alex’s friends – the irrepressible six-year-old Mouse, and Diana, who has quite literally just become a teenage mum. They’re on the run from a “bad man”, and when the group find refuge in an abandoned cottage, Flynn starts to fall deeply in love with Alex. But the dream starts to fall apart and Flynn is forced to confront the terrifying reality of their lives. Like Then, the prose has the feel of a dream, creating an involving, compassionate story where you really care for the characters; the reader can see the signs of the impending nightmare well before Flynn, which makes it all the more compelling. Jullie Myerson is an accomplished author and I’ll definitely looking out for more of her work. Rating: ***

Vintage Books, 2009, 9780099516163

 

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