Here is the full text of my Book Watch column in today’s Herald on Sunday Books page (21 August 2011), reproduced courtesy of the Herald on Sunday.
By Melissa Marr (Harper Collins, $39.99)
Having felt thoroughly over the supernatural/paranormal/zombies/werewolves/vampires genre, I’m suddenly finding myself enjoying some new titles immensely! One of the best has definitely been Graveminder, the first adult novel from Melissa Marr. Graveminder takes us to Claysville – small town USA – where the living are kept safe and the dead need looking after. Rebekkah returns to Claysville after the death of her grandmother and discovers that her family history is even more complicated than she knew. Despite the odd moment of frustration with Rebekkah, Graveminder is a compelling read, entertaining and original.
By Alan Skinner (Sibling Press, $21.95)
An accidental find, Brimstone has been a very satisfying read and is perfect for the young adult audience for which it is written. It follows the adventures of Jenny Swift, abruptly taken as an apprentice by the master alchemist Antrobus and thrown into a story of intrigue and mystery, with a bit of alchemy and science too for good measure. While the imagined world of Vale is convincingly portrayed, the real ace here is the character of Jenny – an intelligent female protagonist who is active in her own story, with a few internal reservations and conflicts to keep things interesting. This is the first in a new series (the Earth, Air, Fire and Water Series) and I’m looking forward to reading more.
When God Spoke English : The Making of the King James Bible
By Adam Nicolson (Harper Collins, $26.99)
On a completely different note is When God Spoke English, the story of the history and creation of the King James Bible. Adam Nicolson does a simply fantastic job of not only backgrounding the historical Jacobean period, but also illuminating the literary achievement of the King James Bible – bringing out the beauty and grace contained within the language. He takes us into the lives of many of the translators, highlighting the contradictions often present within them as well as the society around them. This is the best kind of history: lively, contextual and relevant.