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5 new books to read this week

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of Victory City by Salman Rushdie and Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.



Salman Rushdie is back with a new offering, written before he was attacked onstage last year…


Fiction


1. Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is published in hardback by Jo Fletcher Books, priced £16.99 (ebook £6.99). Available now



From historical fantasy to gothic horror, Silvia Moreno-Garcia remains unbound by genre. Untamed Shore is her dip into (almost) contemporary noir, a gripping murder mystery set against a backdrop of shark hunting and small-town melodrama in late Seventies Baja California. Eighteen-year-old Viridiana does not fit in and, hoping to escape her stuffy fishing village, she is drawn to the glamour of three American tourists who need a translator for their summer in Mexico. A cloak-and-dagger tragedy soon befalls the group but, such is her desire for excitement, she cannot resist the urge to stick around even as the sharks start to circle. Emotions and stakes are high as the morally ambiguous Viridiana leads us through a fantastically evocative and suspenseful thriller.


9/10 (Review by James Cann)


2. Victory City by Salman Rushdie is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape, priced £22 (ebook £10.99). Available now


(Jonathan Cape/PA)

Musician Jarvis Cocker summarises it by saying that reading Sir Salman Rushdie’s novel, Victory City, will “make you feel the same excitement you felt at discovering the Brothers Grimm when you were a child – but it’s for grown-ups!” It’s an apt description for Rushdie’s latest offering, written before he was attacked in New York last year. A young girl, Pampa Kampana, becomes a vessel for a goddess following an encounter as a child. Her story becomes intertwined with the rise of a city called Bisnaga – otherwise known as ‘victory city’. There’s a magical thread of storytelling running through the veins of each character we meet in this book, with many of the experiences and themes prompting the reader to mentally check them against the topics in the author’s prolific vault. There’s a lightness of pace and tone which makes it a joy to read, but as ever, the layered meanings behind the words and descriptions don’t go unnoticed. The realist feminist tale ends with a powerful sign-off, resonating even after you’ve turned the final page.


8/10 (Review by Kerri-Ann Roper)


3. Queen K by Sarah Thomas is published in hardback by Serpent’s Tail, priced £14.99 (ebook £11.99). Available now



Narrated by Mel, a private tutor who works for an oligarch family, Queen K tells the story of Kata, her husband Ivan and her daughter Alex. Kata is a character longing for acceptance into the world of high society. This desire, however, leads to tragedy. Queen K – a debut novel written by Sarah Thomas – starts off slowly, but does a great job at gripping readers and bringing them along on a fascinating journey. The book has lots to draw us in: our hearts ache for young Alex, we empathise with Kata, and we can relate to Mel – someone who is curious about the lives of the rich.


7/10 (Review by Maryam Munir)


Non-fiction


4. Me Vs Brain: An Overthinker’s Guide To Life by Hayley Morris is published in hardback by Century, priced £18.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now



A fresh, laugh-out-loud take on 21st-century high-functioning anxiety, Hayley Morris’ honest and easy-to-read debut is a joy from the first page to the last. It’s a zeitgeist novel for our times, exposing just how normal it is to feel abnormal. Told through a series of hilarious personal anecdotes, Morris both normalises and offers guidance on how to manage anxiety and overthinking in all of life’s situations. From puberty and first dates, to break-ups, bad sex and grief, Morris’ insightful narrative to modern life feels like confessing to a best friend. For fans of Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love, Hayley Morris is most definitely an author to watch.


8/10 (Review by Scarlett Sangster)


Children’s book of the week


5. Billy’s Bravery by Tom Percival is published in paperback by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, priced £1 (ebook 80p, available March 27). Available now



March 2 sees World Book Day (WBD) return, cultivating and celebrating a love of books and reading across the UK. Billy’s Bravery is one of the new releases coming out for WBD, aimed at beginner readers. It is World Book Day and Billy wants to dress up as his favourite superhero, Nature Girl, but a voice in his head tells him he might look silly, and he fears his peers will mock him – can he find the courage to dress as he chooses? Uplifting and gentle, this is a great first book for a new reader, and an enjoyable addition to Percival’s Big Bright Feelings series.


8/10 (Review by Holly Cowell)

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