The dark side of humanity, told exceptionally well: All the birds, singing by Evie Wyld.

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended

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Something is killing Jack Whyte’s sheep. She’s placed herself alone in the middle of the foreign English countryside and refuses to associate with her neighbours – but the strange noises and happenings in the darkness force her to face both the darkness outside and the darkness in her past.

This book was a great book. Really interestingly structured, with character, mystery, plot, nature and psychology intriguingly mixed together: but the picture it painted was just so dark that I’m not going to read it again. Also, all the cover art I have seen for this book is truly beautiful.

This is another example of dual story lines – but this one’s pretty clever. For a good while the chapters seem to skip at random through Jack’s life, leaving the reader confused about where she is and what on earth she’s up to, but eventually it emerges that every other chapter is moving forward in time and the other is moving backwards. Therefore the story moves from the middle both to the start and the finish, gradually painting the picture of Jack’s life that has made her who she is and showing who she becomes. Now that’s pretty great.

The picture that emerges of humanity from this book is bleak. The horrific treatment of Jack by various people in her past and indeed her own actions that emerge show why she pulls away from people, and how such suspicion and distrust have lodged in her mind. They were horrible stories, but sadly ones that ring true to some of the horrible things that humans do to each other.

Nature was another big theme. Obviously she’s a farmer, but nature, it’s cruelty (or just uncaring-ness, perhaps) is a very real presence. There is something that seems to be a monster that is attacking. The mystery, the cruelty of the world made into some mysterious shape. I’m not sure what it was meant to be exactly, but it did symbolise the complete brutality of the world that Jack has lived through. She perhaps feels more at home with nature; where the brutality is blatant rather than masked.

Despite the darkness, I do think this book was exceptionally well put together. And I do think that it did achieve some sort of sense of hope at the end. If you can deal with the darkness… go for it, it’s very, very well written.

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