My Review of The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Finished on: 20th June 2013
Rating: 5 stars
Reading Challenge Book: 37
It’s been so nice to work my way back into reading and relax whilst reading with a bit of music on without having to worry about revision, exams or deadlines.
Now for those of you who know me or read a lot of my reviews, you’ll know that I love a bit of gory writing and horror, especially within the realm of crime/criminal psychology. My favourite series ever is McDermid’s ‘Wire in the Blood’, revolving around criminal psychologist Tony Hill. So it would make sense that I would enjoy reading Hannibal Lecter books and watching the many programmes and films based on him. Weirdly, it had never occurred to me to read the books until recently.
I decided to read Hannibal Rising first, as although it’s the last book published, it acts as a prequel to the others in terms of chronology. You begin to understand what has driven him to become this psychopathic killer who kills without remorse or regret, and it does almost give you a sense of sympathy for him. I think that’s important with books and characters such as these as ‘monsters’ are simply not born that way, they have to be created through trauma, and although this does not excuse the crimes they go on to commit, it helps your understanding.
I was blown away by how true the movie actually was to the book, as in I could recall individual lines from the book that were used pretty much as is in the film. Only a few minor details are skipped over, but this does not detract from the story that Harris has created! Brilliant!
Overall, I found this quite an enjoyable read, and a lot less gruesome I would imagine than the ones to come as it shows how he becomes this notorious killer on a learning curve rather than showing him at his murderous peaks.
Finished on 12/02/13
Date Finished: 8th February 2013
Finished on the 20th January 2013
4th Book of my 2013 Reading Challenge
Rating: 5 stars
This book continues with the chapter of Tudor history involving Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, told through the eyes of Secretary Thomas Cromwell. The prequel to this, Wolf Hall, followed Anne’s ascension to the throne, now Bring Up The Bodies follows the grisly path in history she took afterwards, leading to her death by beheading.
I will confess that I adore Tudor history, it’s one of my favourite periods of history. I love the intrigue, faction, culture, society and relationships. I took a module last term entitled Monarchy and Aristocracy 1460-1640, featuring the Tudors in the middle, and I was enamoured by it. It offers an alternative explanation to the commonly accepted notion that as a reformer, Thomas Cromwell was raised by the ascension of the Boleyn’s themselves, but Mantel puts forward the idea that, trained under Wolsey, Cromwell was a logical replacement for the former bureaucrat and executor of the King’s wishes.
Mantel also communicates superbly how the factions interplayed with each other and how the Papist and Reformist groups interacted. For a work of fiction, it reads almost like a historical reconstruction, the attention to detail and history is so precise that Mantel definitely deserves the accolades given to her thus far for these two pieces of historical fiction. The complex interactions and intrigue between factions, such as Cromwell’s joining forces with the Papist faction in order to depose Anne Boleyn, is communicated so clearly you almost believe it was that simple.
In contrast with Wolf Hall, there’s less of the slight annoyance of that pesky pronoun ‘he’ in reference to Cromwell. It’s refreshing; although I usually expect sequels to fail to deliver, this was a welcome surprise. I love how Mantel communicates the ruthlessness of what a Tudor court was like, and the double-crossing and rumours that arose. You also build up a sympathy and rapport with Anne Boleyn for being caught in the crossfire but also being responsible for her own downfall in some aspects. You can’t help but feel in places that she was forced into marriage to the King by a pushy family and didn’t quite know how to handle herself as a wife.
Overall, a brilliant book that I will definitely read again. I encourage people looking for an easy route into complex historical events in the Tudor period to begin with Mantel’s works, it gives you a literary but nonetheless helpful insight into historical events and the roles of the key players.
Finished on the 16th January 2013
3rd Book of my 2013 Reading Challenge
This book begins in a cold winter of 1963, in a tiny hamlet in Derbyshire called Scardale. 13 year old Alison Carter has gone missing in strange circumstances, her dog being found tied up close by. No one can figure out who is responsible, was it an outsider who didn’t know their way around the village? Or someone closer to home? A person is convicted through the dedication of the team of police officers led by George Bennett. 35 years later, journalist Catherine Heathcote is determined to write a tell-all book about the case with George Bennett, a gritty true crime text. But a new lead emerges, and Bennett tries to stop the story, leading Catherine determined to find out the truth about the Carter case.
Let me just say how AMAZING this book is. At first I was a bit, ‘okay it’s a tragic story but…’. But then it got intriguing, so intriguing that I managed to finish the book yesterday instead of today. When it got to the 35 years later bit, I seriously couldn’t put it down. It’s got everything you could possibly want from a mystery novel; tragedy, disturbing events, the blame game, family suspicion, rumours, ghosts, abuse, cover-ups, genuinely everything. I was seriously impressed by the ending, even I did not see that coming!
Val McDermid has definitely outdone herself with A Place of Execution, it’s truly an easy-read yet so perfectly written for the genre. It has loveable characters with a wide variety of personalities, such as the secretive yet community minded and practically all related members of Scardale, the loveable rogue Tommy Clough, the dedicated George Bennett and the headstrong Ma Lomas. I love the continuity throughout the book and how all of the events seem quite straightforward at the beginning but then intertwine to shock you with the conclusion. Thoroughly recommended, definitely, 100%.