Review of Mr Peacock’s Possessions – 3.5 Stars

Mr Peacock’s Possessions by Lydia Syson

Cover – Mr Peacock’s Possessions


Premise: Lizzie and her family move to become the sole inhabitants of a remote island. Swindled by a ship captain, the family start off with very little and constantly threatened with starvation the family do all they can to make life on the little island bearable. After two brutal years, Kalala and some Pacific Islanders arrive on the island to become the workforce Mr Peacock has long dreamed of, but upon their arrival, Albert, the eldest son of the Peacock’s goes missing.

I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

Pa was unrolling a large tent which had first seen service in the Maori wars. This would be their home until they had built something more permanent.
‘Can we explore now, Pa?’ she asked.
A brief glance at Ma, an even briefer nod back, and Mr Peacock replied:
“Off you go. Not too far though, and not too long either. There’s far too much to be done.’
But when Albert stood up to follow them, Pa blocked his way.
‘No, not you,’ he said. ‘I need you here to hold the pole up. You don’t need strength for that, just steadiness.’

Viewpoint: Mr Peacock’s Possessions follows two stories, that of Lizzie and of Kalala.
Lizzie is strong-willed and single-minded. She tells the stories from a younger teenage perspective.
Kalala is an outsider. He faces a lot of inner turmoil. He was unsure about this trip to the island but believing in his brother agreed. His brother is training to be a man of god and Kalala struggles with his brother’s unquestioning faith.

Character(s): All the characters are pretty good in this book. They provided a great range of dynamics between them. I found the mother a little frustrating, she turned a blind eye to many things, sometimes she appeared to be in charge of her husband, other times she meekly followed him.

Setting: This book is primarily set on Monday Island (with occasional flashbacks to previous homes of the Peacock’s family). The island is uninhabited despite having had inhabitants in the past. The setting is probably one of the things that intrigued me most about this book. The island itself has a darkness to it from the very first introduction of it and the author captures this unnerving feeling brilliantly.

Any Negatives: I hate being negative about a book but unfortunately, I was around 100 pages in (which is quite a hefty commitment) before this book actually took off. It was an awful lot of backstory in that first 100 pages. I am glad I persevered, as the book was great once it got going but it was a little long-winded to start with.

Overall View: I was initially drawn to this book by the beautiful cover (I know, I know, I am just being honest) followed by so many good reviews. I was very intrigued. Isolated family alone on an unknown island. No way to call for help. It is all captivating stuff. Unknown dangers around every corner. However, the story took a long time to kick off and quite a few parts of it were very predictable. I enjoyed this book, it would probably make a great holiday read but I wouldn’t rush out to buy it.

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My rating: 3.5/5

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Extract – Mr Peacock’s Possessions

Review of The Children’s Hour by Douglas Clegg – 3.5 Stars

The Children's HourThe Children’s Hour by Douglas Clegg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m really perplexed about writing this review. This author was recommended to me on the premise that he was very similar to Stephen Kings older horror books and I soon purchased this book with eager anticipation. I didn’t find that to be the case. I didn’t have that terror that somehow kept you addictively reading with Stephen Kings classics such as the shining. Nothing like that, at all.

That being said the book itself wasn’t too bad. The premise is really intriguing. A family returns to the town the father (Joe) grew up in and on his return he is confronted by a girl that disappeared during his childhood. The issue being the girl is exactly the same, she hasn’t aged at all and she remembers Joe.

Clegg’s writing is really quite good, it’s strange and quirky and at times a very vivid image of this small backwater town is portrayed. However, for a lot of this book, I found it quite boring. Not a lot seems to be actually happening. I do agree with other reviewers also that there are just too many points of view in this book, so you sort of struggle to really champion Joe as the main character as the perspective switches a lot along with quite a few flashbacks. It makes the reading quite hard-work and off-putting and all these flashbacks/perspective switches, do slow the pace down a bit.

So, a bit of a mixed bag for me really. This book is not for me a Stephen King equivalent. The story was much more complicated than it needed it to be. That said I didn’t totally dislike it, I really enjoyed the premise, the main character Joe was pretty good and I did like the ending. I think this author has talent and as he continues to write I think his writing style will really flourish, for that reason I will keep an eye out for future books, but I think this one could have done with just a little extra polish and honing. Still, overall an enjoyable read and it’s nice to find something new in this genre. 3.5 star rating.

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Review of What lies beneath by Sarah Rayne – 3.5 Stars

What Lies BeneathWhat Lies Beneath by Sarah Rayne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book contains the usual mysterious historical fiction and modern day interlinked storylines that Rayne seems to do brilliantly, it isn’t quite as dark and unnerving as some of her other standalone novels (such as House of the Lost), but certainly darker than her Nell West series.

In the modern storyline, we go with Ella Haywood who finds out the town from her childhood is to be re-opened for a short while prior to being cleared for new motorway bypass. This is the talk of the town and soon Ella gets very jittery and no-one including her granddaughter knows why. Ella’s behaviour becomes more and more obscure and no-one around her knows why.

The historical storyline was very interesting. The story switches back to 1912 where we meet the Cadence family of Cadence Manor in the village of Priors Bramley, mostly through a series of journals – author initially unknown. We also flashback to Ella’s childhood and an incident on the day the village closed.

Other reviewers have complained about Rayne’s writing style in this and I do agree with some of the comments (e.g. it is quite slow in places). There are four storylines in this book and it is quite complicated how it is held together. Normally Sarah Rayne’s writing style is much sharper, darker and more dramatic. However, I did enjoy the storyline non-the-less. Also, the main character in this book Ella is not very nice, normally Rayne has a really strong protagonist who you champion throughout the book whereas this character isn’t. I did enjoy Rayne’s experimentation with this technique but I think having a main character that you dislike isn’t always an easy sell to other readers.

Overall, I still really enjoyed this book, not as good as others she has written but still very clever, particularly the historical storylines. For those that haven’t discovered the Sarah Rayne’s writing, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to Phil Rickman’s work; old story exposed, great characters and slightly eerie. Although the dark dividing (standalone novel) is my favourite out of her books. The Nell West series she writes is also very good. This is more of a 3.5 from me but as that option isn’t available and a 3 felt very mean I gave it a 4.

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Review of Dog Tails by Tara Chevrestt – 3.5 Stars

Dog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog LoversDog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog Lovers by Tara Chevrestt

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I was undecided whether to leave a review for this or not, it’s difficult to advise others who are considering reading it of any more info than what it says in the description.
Three short stories all told from the viewpoint of dogs. Sweet, humorous and a cheap collection. I’m not sure what age bracket this book was aimed at. Most dog owners will enjoy it but I’d probably recommend it as more of something to be read with a child (maybe not the first story but definitely the other two).
Summary
The Bad – A little bit too sugary sweet for adult readers (I think but that could be put down to personal taste).
The Good – Easy, quick reads at a low price. I imagine this book would be quite a nice book to read with a pet loving child too.

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Similar to Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two by Sue Vincent – to see a review for this Click Here