The Ghost Theatre is not released for another month, but is the ideal book to review for the letter G in my A to Z Challenge. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC. Saturday is my normal review day, so most title links are to my reviews on this blog.
The plan for the month is to feature daily a book I’ve reviewed in the past (or review it that day), and also highlight others: not all are included each day.
- spacetime challenge (I host this reading challenge – you can join here)
- middle grade (childrens) choice
- series (love a good series – there’s a challenge for finishing those, too)
- ‘notable’ reads
- ‘outstanding’ books
- my books!
Book Review: The Ghost Theatre
by Mat Osman
TO LOVE IS TO FALL . . .
On a rooftop in Elizabethan London two worlds collide. Shay is a messenger-girl and trainer of hawks who sees the future in the patterns of birds. Nonesuch is the dark star of the city’s fabled child theatre scene, as famous as royalty yet lowly as a beggar.
Together they create The Ghost Theatre: a troupe staging magical plays in London’s hidden corners. As their hallucinatory performances incite rebellion among the city’s outcasts, the pair’s relationship sparks and burns against a backdrop of the plague and a London in flames. Their growing fame sweeps them up into the black web of the Elizabethan court, where Shay and Nonesuch discover that if they fly too high, a fall is sure to come… [goodreads]
This captivating and beautifully written book charts the lives of Shay and Nonesuch just as the blurb says. In three Acts, clearly delineated sections of the ‘theatre’ plays a central part. I was quite ready for the break each time. I found that the depths in which London of 1601 is portrayed to be sickening at times especially the degradation which the young actors were subjected to.
Having said that, the way that Mat Osman writes the Ghost Theatre is a masterpiece. I just wished he got all of his Elizabethan landmarks correct. In particular the ‘spire’ of St Pauls was only built after the cathedral was destroyed in the 1666 Great Fire. Before that it had a tower and that was the landmark that Shay should have been pointing out each time. Otherwise most of the tangle of streets that he describes, especially from the rooftops, rings true with the rough thatch, narrow alleyways, and the ordure. Birds play a major part, brilliantly described.
Osman’s imagination, especially of costume and revelry, and his descriptive powers, will delight most wordsmiths. I’m not convinced it has a plot, though, or not one I engaged with, anyway.
My selection for the spacetime reading challenge, the Galaxy and the Ground Within, is my first Becky Chambers mention this month. All Becky Chambers’ books are masterpieces. They generally deal with the interpersonal side of aliens and future humans, as well as being really good space opera. The Galaxy and the Ground Within is a unique take on the genre. And although it is book 4 of Wayfarers series, these can be read in any order as they all stand alone.
Middle Grade choice
Goodnight Mr Tom is a classic tale of a boy evacuated to the country at the start of the Blitz, and the gruff old man who tries to care for him. There could not be two more different characters. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I loved it. It’s not the mawkish tale I thought it would be from what I’d heard.
The Graveyard Book is by Neil Gaiman, who never does anything mawkish. The tale of a child brought up in the graveyard is entertaining and thought provoking, and a real treasure.
Galileo’s Theme Park is an anthology of short stories (c 5,000 words each) set in the solar system (on the whole), part of the Third Flatiron stable. It is particularly notable for including one of mine!
My own titles
Greed and Retribution is the only title I’ve written starting the letter G. It contains around 30 flash fiction stories on the theme of … as the title says. That gives you most of the Carruthers and friends’ treasure hunts, plus some things found in attics or junk shops that should have been left well alone, plus my take on hell. The paperback is not available in online bookstores except for Blurb (see it here). The ebook version is available at Smashwords. All with the aim of keeping the price low for a 30,000 word collection.
That’s all for today, so come back tomorrow for more. I’m hoping to meet more people who like the same kinds of book, so feel free to recommend something you’ve read beginning with the letter of the day!