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The Guardian's Not the Booker Prize - Reader Reviews

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago we mentioned that four of our publishers’ books had been nominated for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize:

Well unfortunately we didn’t make the shortlist, but that doesn’t mean our authors didn’t do amazingly well!

All four titles scored highly, but The Shapes of Dogs’ Eyes deserves a special mention, tallying up an impressive 35 votes. And while our authors may not have won the prize, they did receive some pretty rave reviews and that is worth far more than any trophy.

Here’s what some of the voters had to say about our nominations:


The Shapes of Dogs’ Eyes by Harry Gallon (Dead Ink)

“This book was pretty mind-blowing to me just in its craft: the sentence construction, word choice, pacing of paragraphs and the irregular, fractured structure are all so deftly done, and, then, when that's laid on top of a swirling, blurry half-plot that's told in the first-person, the whole thing becomes like trying to remember a drunken night that lasted for a year. For a first novella this is some next level s**t.”

“Gallon provides a fantastical Hackney which, due to the author's skill, feels terrifyingly real. Deft dialogue, slick characters and a keen eye leads the writer into a universe of wonder, joy and farce. All over a journey any self-respecting literary type should be jumping on. The kind of detail which Gallon delves into shows his commitment to subject and lantern like ability to absorb his surroundings, quite a skill. Hackney comes to life and it's very clear that the author has both lived, and worked, as a barman here, he captures it in technicolour. Hopefully we will see more from Gallon in the future."


The Dowry Blade by Cherry Potts (Arachne Press)

“This is a fantasy novel that bucks convention by presenting an almost exclusively female world without labels or impediments for sexual relationships. Plot tight, good pace, rich in conflict, well drawn story world and characters, taut prose. There are interesting ideas about the place (or not) of violence within the genre and fascinating use of singing as the basis for powerful magic.”


The Wave by Lochlan Bloom (Dead Ink)

“It is not a light read you take on your holiday to relax; instead it will do what a good literature is supposed to do: it will ask questions that will leave you uncomfortable. You have to stay focused to follow three different narratives, at first glance not related but actually interweaved with each other, except you never get to find out all the details. As you go through the narratives, you slowly realise it is yourself who needs to answer the questions about life and fiction, truth and lies, and the sense of the world, especially the one that is not here yet but one that we’re making right now. The Wave mixes clever writing with hard hitting questioning of oneself and the world we’re making for ourselves. Excellent.”

The Wave was one of the treats of the spring, and represented one of those instances where a new writer makes you wake up and take notice. Bloom has clearly done a lot of research into his interwoven tale but the learning is worn lightly. And this isn’t a book just packed to the rafters with research, it’s also hypnotically written, with innovative choices and brave dedication to certain story strands that delay their pay-off, but once they do pay, you know you’re in good hands.


The Bastard Wonderland by Lee Harrison (Wrecking Ball Press)

“This was a really original fantasy novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. As well as building a convincing fantasy world, it has a really nice, authentic father and son relationship running through the book which I really enjoyed. There were lots of twists and turns and the plot was always surprising with lots of unexpected developments. The world of the book is really well described and brought to life. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes a good fantasy novel and I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next after this great debut.

“In usual terms, I am not really a fantasy fan but then The Bastard Wonderland is not your usual fantasy novel: richly descriptive, funny, moving, imaginative and resolutely northern, it takes you on an epic adventure that defies convention. An amazing debut novel that is a thoroughly thrilling read.”

“If you want a fantasy novel that eschews the standard elves and goblin fantasy world and instead offers something far richer (and often far darker) then this could be the book for you. In a similar fashion to the way that the first Star Wars film sees great the changes in the galaxy from the perspective of a pair of robots, The Bastard Wonderland shows a rapidly changing world from the viewpoint of a directionless nobody, a man stuck in a rut who has his life changed by a chance encounter with a foreigner who has nothing in his life other than a seemingly unshakeable purpose. With a wealth of interesting characters and story arcs this really is worth picking up.”


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