If You Go Into the Woods is probably not best suited to readers who prefer their stories neatly boxed with all the answers lined up. But for those readers who, like me, love punchy, entertaining reads with a bit of mental gymnastics thrown in, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Through her nostalgic but realistic lens, readers may find themselves looking at their own hometowns in a new way—one that is not the idyllic memory of childhood, but more true to life, warts and all. It is clear that Pedersen makes no apologies for Buffalo’s hardscrabble past, but instead chooses to celebrate the unique spirit and character of her hometown.
Having experienced domestic violence first hand and gone on to work with the perpetrators of such violence, there is no one better equipped than Meyers to write a story like this. I would categorise, The Murderer’s Daughters as faction—a skilful blending of fact and fiction.
Hannah writes firmly in the present, putting the readers in both Jude and Lexi’s thoughts at the moment of her narration. Even though Hannah makes many references to painful events in her characters’ pasts, she doesn’t delve into those moments with any great depth.
Winter Garden is a novel with many layers. Hannah uses a fanciful fairy tale as the link between a mother and her daughters—this is the key that will unlock the secrets that have been hiding in Nina and Meredith’s mother’s past for decades.
Without a doubt, Smith is a master storyteller. A novel with this jig-saw structure couldn’t possibly work without skill. To make such absurdities as fly-away castles and alien abductions so utterly believable is a testament to Smith’s talent. In less experienced hands this story would have been a farce.
Layered over and between each other, these passages of inner thoughts, often told in present tense, second person, lend kaleidoscopic views to the story, hopping back and forth through time and focusing on the unique angle seen by each character.
Pedersen revisits a character who has many of the same insecurities and dilemmas as the rest of us. Hallie is in that awkward, post-college stage—trying to cope with the challenges and responsibilities of adulthood as best she can, while admitting that she’s not ready for any of it!
Our Kind of Traitor is pretty good as a thriller, mind: the characterisation and suspense are terrific; le Carre can undoubtedly spin a good yarn. There’s even a Hitchcockian/John Buchan-style adventure vibe to it: Perry and Gail, two unlikely operatives, pitched against sinister forces.
Overall, the stories paint very clear pictures, sometimes reading more like prose poetry, sometimes like anecdotes, sometimes with surprising turns, sometimes just resonating in lush language.