More personal news, another review of a cracking novel

Personal news: Here’s what Glossop Creates, our local umbrella organisation for local artists and craftspeople, said on their website about our forthcoming folktale evening (12th May 2022):

‘Everyone enjoys ghost stories… and we have some brilliant ones in the Peak District! For this evening, we’re going to choose four or five of these tales that are similar in their underlying significance for the society in which they were created and told. “We” are the two who performed the folktale gig on 21st April, Dr Kathryn Starnes and Dr Mark Henderson. Mark collects local folktales and tells them; Kathryn is the expert on their relationship to other parts of culture. If the audience enjoys the evening as much as we expect, we’ll do more of the same at some future time. We have a wide choice of creepy local tales!

Review: I reviewed Linda Nicklin’s Storm Girl on Amazon immediately after I’d read it in August 2020. Here’s what I wrote – and a second reading of this excellent novel hasn’t changed my judgement:

‘Linda Nicklin extrapolates from the current perilous state of the Earth to a horrific future where such scraps of our resources that remain are ruthlessly exploited by the super-rich and the rest of the (much reduced) human population is among those scraps. If you suppose this to be a hysterical over-reaction to the climate crisis by a half-informed zealot, read the Appendix of “Storm Girl” and follow the links. You’ll find evidence for some of the wealth of impeccable research that has formed the basis for this story. It will give you cold shudders.

‘Three main characteristics of the novel make it palatable despite its brutally dystopian theme. First, it’s what used to be called “a rattling good yarn”, an adventure story, and the pace never slackens. Of course there are rises and falls of tension, as in any good novel, but the plot never congeals. Second, although the horrors of this near-future world are faced full on, they’re never dwelt on to a maudlin or distasteful extent. Linda Nicklin presents them to us but doesn’t wallow in them. Third, in addition to the wonderful protagonist, whose character evolves and toughens as her story unfolds, the book boasts a wealth of strong, brave and admirable women characters in whose courage and commitment lies a glimmer of hope for the world’s future.

‘Other comments: Some of the “bad guys” can be seen as satirical portraits of certain influential people alive today. I loved them! Also, the protagonist’s back-story is fantastical, but that’s a necessary plot device and I had no difficulty in swallowing it as such.

‘Overall: what a debut novel! I started reading it in the afternoon and apart from a break for dinner I didn’t stop until the small hours of the morning. I’ll give it a few weeks and then read it again. Congratulations, Ms Nicklin. Not many authors produce first novels of this quality.’

Linda Nicklin, Storm Girl, Fantastic Books Publishing, 2020; ISBN 978-1-912053-27-8 – also available for download in electronic format.


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