#BookReview - Soot by Andrew Martin

York, 1799.

In August, an artist is found murdered in his home - stabbed with a pair of scissors. Matthew Harvey's death is much discussed in the city. The scissors are among the tools of his trade - for Harvey is a renowned cutter and painter of shades, or silhouettes, the latest fashion in portraiture. It soon becomes clear that the murderer must be one of the artist's last sitters, and the people depicted in the final six shades made by him become the key suspects. But who are they? And where are they to be found?

Later, in November, a clever but impoverished young gentleman called Fletcher Rigge languishes in the debtor's prison, until a letter arrives containing a bizarre proposition from the son of the murdered man. Rigge is to be released for one month, but in that time, he must find the killer. If he fails, he will be incarcerated again, possibly for life.

And so, with everything at stake, and equipped only with copies of the distinctive silhouettes, Fletcher Rigge be…

Book Review - The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas


The Seed Collectors is centered on the Gardener family, the dysfunctional offspring of botanists who went missing years ago searching for mysterious seed-pods that have mystical but fatal powers. Named after plants - Fleur, Plum, Clem, Bryony etc - the book follows them after the death of Great Aunt Oleander, and after they are left the aforementioned seed pods in her will. Naturally in a family drama there are dark secrets to be uncovered but there is also sharp humour and a lot of sex, frequently quite brutal and loveless, and usually of the illicit kind.
I finished The Seed Collectors a few weeks ago but have put off writing a review because I'm still not really how I felt about it. I disliked the characters, any sympathy I briefly felt for a character could easily dissipate in a subsequent chapter . but that in itself isn't enough to put me off a book, I've enjoyed plenty of novels where I wouldn't want to know the characters in real life. There were parts I really liked, it's a funny, ambitious and beautifully written tale. The plot meanders between characters, there isn't a sole focus to the book, each chapter is from a different viewpoint, even from that of a robin in the garden. While I appreciated the skill involved in weaving the story I did find it all a bit disjointed, and missed the flow of a book that follows a less fragmented path. I found it was a book that I could become distracted from, there are some books that pull me in and I lose myself in. The Seed Collectors wasn't like that, I could read a chapter and love the writing but then with the abrupt change of focus lose interest and end up putting the book down for a few days.
I don't want this to be a negative review because I do think it's a  beautifully written novel with some truly thought- provoking parts, it perhaps wasn't the book for me but I can admire and appreciate it nevertheless.
Thanks to the publishers, Canongate for my copy received through NetGalley in return for my unbiased review.

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