Hello all! I think we’ve finally hit summer in the UK (I say that as everything has clouded over again and there’s a promise of rain). Last month passed in an absolute whirlwind of walkies, socialising, an exhibition, Sleeping Beauty and a near death experience… so as you can see not much going on 😉 And on that note, I’m going to dive straight into some of the media I’ve been consuming in the last month…
Queen Charlotte– I was positively engaged by this. If you’re going to write a historical fantasy, then this is absolutely how you should do it. Yes historical accuracy is sacrificed- but it is sacrificed on the altar of romance. And yes there is overt political messaging- but it is messaging about unity that will warm even the coldest heart. There’s an if only aspect to it, which distinguishes it from the modern rewritings we have seen. It humorously upholds the social mores and doesn’t throw out every concept of the age. All this is done to provide a backdrop to a truly unconventional love story- one marred by tragedy from the start. In a heartrending fashion, this is the most charming rendition of the madness of George III that I’ve seen (just watch out for the awkward sex scenes 😉).
Seven Kings Must Die– continuing the royal trend, we finally have the finale to my favourite show of all time: the Last Kingdom. As we started the show with the last kingdom being the Anglo Saxon Wessex, we are now brought to the near formation of England with the last kingdom being the Viking kingdom of Northumbria. Our hero Uhtred has had many years enjoying the successes of the series 5 finale- but as we know from this show, that peace cannot stand. With poignant storytelling and deep character work, this provides a beautiful conclusion to a story I have followed for many years. More than that- it goes beyond the mere characters in the narrative. The story inevitably becomes about the formation of the English as well as England. It is utter perfection and I had tears in my eyes by the end.
House of the Dragon– well, that was some hot stuff. After my complaints about Fire and Blood being something of a damp squid, I didn’t expect to be so taken in by this series. And in truth, I was rather cool towards it at the start. Yet as the series progressed, the characters and narrative were ever more compelling. Based on some rather dry histories, the showrunners have breathed life into this Westerosi mythos. Somehow they managed to make me root for some truly heinous characters and reignite my passion for the world of Game of Thrones (which is no small miracle!). Do not go into it expecting romantic highs or happy endings- for this is very much grimdark fantasy. As graphic as I found it (unfortunately it is still too unnecessarily gratuitous) I could not look away. I have to confirm what all the critics are saying: this is television worth watching.
Final Girl Support Group– like all the other Hendrix books I’ve read, this is an intelligent horror. With the concept of the final final girl to examine themes of gendered violence and trauma. As an examination of the final girls trope, it’s on point. Not only does it explore the concept in modern media, bringing in multimedia extracts to add texture to the narrative, but it also becomes deeply mythical by the end. Entrenched in Greek mythological themes, the narrative journeys into the concept of becoming a monster to defeat the monster.
Rating: 4/5 bananas
Small Things Like These- this isn’t a bad book by any metric. It explores deep and real emotions. It has a complex central character. It has a sophisticated narrative arc in a contained space. AND YET something about it feels incomplete. I felt it was more of a snapshot rather than an epic work of art. There’s more promise to it than it delivers- and in that way I guess it’s a typical Booker Prize nominee. And we all know what I think about Booker Prize Winners by now 😉
Rating: 3/5 bananas
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers– this was a delight. Packed with fun characters and with a plot to die for, this was such a joy to read. Using malapropisms and some smart writing, Sutanto created the perfect cosy mystery with a 5* ending. I strongly advise you try it for yourself!
Rating: 5/5 bananas
That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month! ❤