Blog Tours, book reviews, spoiler free

The Blue Salt Road – Spoiler Free Review

40200607The Blue Salt Road by Joanne Harris
Illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins

Rating: XXXXX

Published November 15th by Gollancz

An earthly nourris sits and sings
And aye she sings, “Ba lilly wean,
Little ken I my bairn’s father,
Far less the land that he staps in.
(Child Ballad, no. 113)

So begins a stunning tale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas, and drama on the land. The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless, wild young man.

Passion drew him to a new world, and trickery has kept him there – without his memories, separated from his own people. But as he finds his way in this dangerous new way of life, so he learns that his notions of home, and your people, might not be as fixed as he believed.

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. When I heard Joanne had written another book in the same vein as her 2017 release A Pocketful of Crows (which I reread and reviewed Tuesday) I was hugely excited! I fell in love with the wonderful prose contained inside the tale of a nameless wild girl of the travelling folk and we are met with a slightly different style, that is no less captivating for it, about a nameless, young selkie man entrapped by a young woman and it does not disappoint.

I read The Blue Salt Road in a few small sittings over a couple of days and it has been an absolute joy to read. Joanne has an innate talent to bring hope and compassion into even the darkest of tales and this book is no exception. I was pleasantly surprised with the number of twists and turns throughout, one problem that I think stories that read like old tales can often suffer from is predictability but with this book while feeling familiar is also refreshingly new and strangely relevant to the world we live in today despite being set in a different time.

The prose is in a different style to A Pocketful of Crows but like it’s predecessor it evokes it’s subject perfectly and you can almost feel the wind and the sea spray against your face as you read about the waves, the different types of whales and other sea life, Joanne has a remarkable and magical way of describing nature and it really works well in The Blue Salt Road. We are also once again we are treated to some absolutely gorgeous art throughout by illustrator Bonnie Hawkins helping, even more, to bring the story to life. It is also hard to really pin down a true villain despite many of the characters doing despicable things but this just helps to bring it in line with reality, this is a perfect example of a new, yet old tale and I would happily read more like this.

book reviews, spoiler free

A Pocketful of Crows – Spoiler Free Review

34913762A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris
Illustrations by Bonnie Helen Hawkins
Audiobook read by Joanne Harris

Rating: XXXXX

Published October 19th 2017 by Gollancz

“If only I had patience. If only I could sleep till spring. If only I were the hawthorn tree, too old to love, too wise to hate.”

I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;
I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.
(The Child Ballads, 295)

So begins a beautiful tale of love, loss and revenge. Following the seasons, A Pocketful of Crows balances youth and age, wisdom and passion and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl.
Only love could draw her into the world of named, tamed things. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape.
Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

In the run-up to the release of the beautiful “The Blue Salt Road” (Out this Thursday, November 15th) which although not a direct sequel to A Pocketful of Crows is also based around a Child Ballad poem and is full of the same beautiful illustrations and wonderful, whimsical writing. Not to mention this book this book is a perfect Autumn read and we are well into the season of crunchy leaves, knitted cardigans, scarves and magic by now.

Although I read this last year I’m rereading this now in the form of the captivating audiobook read by Joanne Harris herself. I love good audiobooks and this one is so exception, the joy of listening to a book narrated by the author themselves is you can hear how it was meant to be read, obviously everything is open to interpretation but there’s just something exceedingly special and magical listening to the words in the way they sound to the author themselves creating a whole other level of storytelling harking back to the roots of stories themselves.

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A Pocketful of Crows has a magical quality to it, in the story itself and in the telling of it and feels different from almost any other book I’ve read before, it feels old and mysterious and reads like something between a poem, a ballad and a spell. The writing and the language are absolutely beautiful and the story itself would be interesting no matter how it was told but Joanne’s hand has given it an extra flourish that makes it wonderous and allows you to feel the damp earth underfoot, smell the changing of the seasons and hear the sounds of the animals in the forest, it is truly an experience.

Although I primarily listened to the audiobook this read through I did take time to look through the physical book itself once again because the illustrations by Hawkins are simply gorgeous and something about the style and the black and white colouring just really brings them in line with and evokes the style of this new but ancient book.

A short read, the audiobook clocks in at just over four hours and it is a book that can fairly easily be read in one sitting and one I recommend to anyone feeling witchy or like they want to swept up in a magical and mysterious story about a wild girl who refuses to be tamed.

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