Review of Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

I sailed through Northern Lights and there were many things I enjoyed about this novel.Although it’s not a light-hearted story, it’s quite a light hearted read and easily grips and keeps hold of your attention.

To sum up:

What was particularly good?: I really enjoyed the pace of this novel. It moved fast and there was always something new going on. There was constant development in both characters and the plot throughout which made it not only easy but also really fun to read.

What I didn’t enjoy?: Sometimes there were developments in relationships between characters which were sudden. Often they were good but there wasn’t much content to make it believable and you sort of just had to accept that’s how they were.

Novels that begin in medias res are doing it right. The tension is high the moment you enter the world so you’re almost obliged to keep reading. Northern Lights does this and never ceases to with each chapter. As I said above there is constantly something going on and each part of the story is vital to its plot.

Due to this, the story moves along fast so there isn’t really “time” to question the world because you become immersed in Lyra’s (protagonist) journey. You’re content knowing what she knows and not knowing what she doesn’t know because you know that eventually it will be revealed.

Besides it’s Anti/Biblical implications, the idea of having a daemon that embodies your consciousness or soul is a fantastic idea. It creates wonder and also an emotional attachment to the characters both human and daemon.The importance of having one is exemplified through the bonds that we see in Lyra and her daemon and the other humans alike – it’s sweet and you sympathise a whole lot more with the children (especially Lyra) than adults throughout.

This novel in particular was based a lot around “The Alethiometer” or “The Golden Compass” and its powers or more so Lyra’s powers. This soon became more evident but, I feel that the explanations of how Lyra hears the answers it gives whilst the other characters do not is too brief. It is quite an important factor of the story so would’ve been worth the explanation.

The ending of the novel is not anymore intense than other parts of the story but it still has a great impact as we learn like Lyra, ‘horrible truths’. It also paves a way for the sequel so it’s not all frowns and tears because her journey has not yet ended.

Being a practiced liar doesn’t mean you have a powerful imagination. Many good liars have no imagination at all; it’s that which gives their lies such wide-eyed conviction.

My rating: 5/5


Review of 1984 by George Orwell


It is entirely coincidental that I should be reading this book as part of course material at the same time as the whole Trump ordeal. Last week I also realised that it had made a comeback on bestselling too – I now see why of course and it did surprise me a little that I hadn’t studied or even read this novel before now. Well, anyhow, I’m here now so that’s all that matters.

To sum up:

What was particularly good?:  What I most enjoyed about reading 1984 was that it was so explicit and upfront in its narrative style. I had expected flowery, obscure language but there is little of that compared to its clarity. The clarity in his writing provides the ability to read objectively and engage better with the novel. Orwell’s views politically as well as emotionally are raw and transparent that it gives you a very good sense of the author as the storyteller.

What I didn’t enjoy?: There were two things that I really disliked about the novel. In short, the repetition of key points and the extremely slow pace. As a creative response to communism, the book really works well. As a novel, it was hard to feel at all interested in Winston’s (protagonist’s) life. There is the subtle knowledge that his life is somewhat important in the story but at times it is so mundane that I had to put the novel down and come back to it constantly.

For such a political novel, the themes and symbolism can hardly be obscure. Orwell’s intention is to highlight the possibilities of a different outcome post-war so, to review the book as singularly ‘dystopian’ would be stupid. The novel focuses on a totalitarian society and I feel that, that in itself allowed the novel to rise to such success. The thought of what could’ve, might’ve happened or even what could happen is the basis of any good creative writing – so needless to say there’s no doubt that Orwell has mastered this. It’s obviously more personal than this though, because the twist in the novel towards the end displays a harsher attitude towards this imaginary scenario.It’s not the typical heroic attempt of the protagonist to fix or even help to fix the situation, instead it’s more about how some things cannot be fixed – so maybe we should begin to really think about avoiding those things altogether. But quite basically Orwell obviously doesn’t believe in happy endings.

Now that we’ve got that out the way, I can talk about how much I hated the process of reading 1984. The novel (in it’s entirety, all 3 parts) in my opinion is divided unequally between interesting and non interesting points as displayed in the diagram below:

table-of-interestExhibit A: (Excuse my poor attempt at a diagram).

This meant for the entire “Ok I get it. Can we have some action please?” part of the novel, I was constantly picking up the novel only to put it back down again after reading a mere few pages.

Despite this disappointing setback I absolutely loved the second half, in a non creepy way. It was full of advancements, there was finally some reasoning behind the mundane start and it gave a very impact-full ending. There was both a great deal of emotion and some mystery too for once so it pushed me to finish the novel. There is something about dystopian fiction that attracts readers in an odd way – it’s brutal yet exciting. Obviously reader of the 50’s would have reason to disagree with “excitement” as a description but on the whole it is quite thrilling.

Finally, I think another factor of this novel’s success is the sense of realism in the world that Orwell has managed to build out of exaggerated imagination. There is plausibility and therefore it’s quite haunting not only to the readers of the past but more so to us now.

The best books… are those that tell you what you already know.

My rating: 4/5

Review of A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess


Where do I even begin with this book? You know when people say that a book took them on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Well, for me this book is one of those…

To sum up:

What was particularly good?: The writing. I have so often heard in the past (about A Clockwork Orange) the difficulties of understanding the narrative voice, the dialogue and consequently the story. For me I thought it was spectacular. The challenge of grasping the youth “lingo” in the beginning is what helped to keep me interested. Those types of books in my opinion are rare gems. There’s enough of the lingo to make you feel like you’re part of something, part of the story, you know what the narrator knows whilst other characters don’t. At the same time it’s not tedious and over whelming, you can generally get the gist of it after a while and isn’t it just amazing when authors can use what is deemed non-standard English in such a profound manner.

What I didn’t enjoy?: The realism or more so the lack of it, depending on which way you were to look at it. This falls down to the way the story plays out especially in the third part. Without giving too much away, the  string of events that took part seemed so haphazard. Actually, to say it was haphazard is harsh because they took place with sensible links but one could say it’s all too coincidental that one after another these events took place, and therefore lacking a sort of realistic element. There’s “Karma” but then… Really? Then again, it is a work of fiction, so you can altogether discard my opinion as just that, an opinion.

I love roller coasters. So, to say that this book was like one means that I loved it right? Wrong. In fact I don’t quite know how I feel about this book because there are so many different emotions Burgess clearly wants you to feel.

Generally speaking roller coasters only ever make me feel very simply joy on many different levels however, if it were my first time on one I can imagine that it would reflect my impressions of A Clockwork Orange and would look a little something like this:

Part I in its entirety is the exhilarating climb up the first peak at the beginning of the coaster. The cars ride slowly up, as does your feeling for the narrator, they are mixed, you are excited and at the same time a bit cautious, maybe even scared. Either way, you know what’s coming at the top. There’s something uneasy in the pit of your stomach and then when you fall you feel the full weight of what you now have to sit through for the rest of the ride… What you have to read for the rest of the book. That uneasiness is only exemplified and there to remain. In this part of the book, you can’t help but feel slightly dull by the shock at how Burgess manages to write about such sensitive topics through a narrative voice of young teenage boy and pull it off with such an ‘innocent’ tone, bearing in mind there’s absolutely nothing innocent about it.

Part II is then the middle of the ride, something that is predictable, enjoyable and easy to sit through.  It’s the calm before the climax when you can see the line of vertical loops ready to make you feel slightly ill. Again you’re not sure now whether you should be glad or not. Is it weird to feel glad or should you be feeling nauseous? But you don’t have time to think of this because, the best part are those vertical loops which are already here and by the way constitute most of…

Part III. This part in quick successions one after another, makes you feel somewhat sorry for the narrator, all the whilst feeling guilty for feeling pity and then horrified at what takes place. It is a torturous cycle until you can’t help but feel like you’re just glad it’s over when it is. And all stories do come to an end as all rides do.

The ending is such an abrupt change that naturally I was left contemplating whether I enjoyed it or not and unfortunately I can’t say that I’ve come to a conclusion. Only, that the mere fact of it’s ability to have me being so twisted in my feelings towards it deserves songs of praise.

It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil.

My rating: 4.5/5


Review of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick


I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this novel. After reading The Drowned World, my hopes for liking Science Fiction had fallen but when I read the opening sentence of this book I knew it was going to be good.

To sum up:

What was particularly good?: The ideas. It’s one thing to think “What if we had…?” or “What if there were…?” and another thing to actually answer it. The question of androids being so technologically advanced that they can pass and even overtake humans is a popular rising discussion but Dick has managed to create an entirely other world just to address this and it’s so wonderfully done.

What I didn’t enjoy?: This is quite hard to answer because I don’t quite remember a part at which I thought “I don’t like this.” If I had to pick, it would be an element of the plot, so if I said what it was I would be spoiling.

The book begins, “A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard.”  The mood organ is the focus of the first chapter and while it never really plays any big role until it returns at the end of the novel it sets up the surroundings. What kind of world do these characters live in? Dick manages to answer this question without long and lengthy descriptions of the actual surroundings but rather by action that takes place.

There is a beautiful balance of dialogue and description throughout the novel that continues to build the world as you read until the very end. Consequently, this makes the world feel familiar, you’re not constantly trying to figure out why things are the way they are, you can accept that this is the world that Dick has created. As it all unfolds you can easily imagine this world playing out in your mind.

Some of the action that takes place isn’t even all that interesting, it’s merely to move the story along but it still provides something as you read and that’s why I very rarely felt like skipping anything. The intense elements are written in a way that’s smooth and clear, reflecting the severity of the situation i.e. life and death – no in between.Finally the ending is one so satisfying. As with any novel there is a sense of reality in it, there is something bitter sweet about the character Deckard’s realisation and like him you feel glad that it’s all finally over.

It’s the basic condition of life to be required to violate our own identity.

My rating: 5/5



Review of The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard


“I don’t think my bookshelf will be kind to me this year.” She says as she  finally closes The Drowned World and puts it alongside the still-to-read books. I’m sat here 1:00 am writing this review because I’m finally,after much struggle,finished and I have to be over with it so that I can read another book.

Until reading The Time Machine just last month, I hadn’t gone anywhere near a Science Fiction novel,mainly because I like my science fiction in the cinemas. The Drowned World is amongst the books I have to read for my course though so there was no escaping it. I had to sit myself down and power through. Which I did eventually…

Unfortunately, throughout the first half of the novel I barely understood some of the terminology used so I couldn’t get myself into it enough to power through. It was so different to The Time Machine. There were references to ‘types’ of things, like a type of boat or a specific species of crocodile – which in all honesty I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t watched Planet Earth. I spent so much time having to re-read paragraphs or look up new vocabulary, I am certain I read the first chapter almost three times. It could be blamed on my ignorance and lack of knowledge but, I just couldn’t immerse myself into Ballard’s world, I couldn’t even wrap myself around it. It took me a few chapters to fully grasp what everything was and where everything was placed. It made me realise how different Science Fiction is and more so how incredibly thought out it is.

Despite its sticky beginning, the plot proved to be quite interesting. Set in a futuristic time zone where the world has finally comes to its most dire stages as a result of climate change, the story has a sense of relatability to the present day. Ballard’s ability to create the sense of atmosphere is intense and almost real. The climate, temperature and emotions are so well portrayed that it’s easy to put yourself in a single characters shoes and yet, the story itself is quite obviously unreal so you can all the while distance yourself and read the story as if you are watching it on screen.

It has quite a considerable slow start as it introduces the characters, their thoughts and their standpoints. The world building took up quite a few chapters which meant there was very little action until the second half. This however allowed the climax to be kept a surprise. Not really a shocking surprise but, not knowing the protagonists mission or end goal is possibly what kept me interested.

Once I had finally gotten a hold of the different aspects of this drowned world, the action was a lot more vividly imaginable and enjoyable but I think the most enjoyable aspect is that Ballard has a very round about manner of describing events, so concepts that are usually grasped quite quickly are revealed a lot slower. This helped in always keeping the suspense alive.

The ending, I felt (deep down) was predictable. And however predictable it may have been was still disappointing because the little action that Ballard added to the second half came to an end too quickly.It was anticlimactic, nothing special hence, quite disappointing.

All in all it was  a challenging read but interesting. Is it worth a read? Well, if you’re good with concentration and you want to know what might happen to the world if we keep up destroying the Earth then yes. If you’re not into Sci-Fi then maybe this isn’t the book for you.

Did I or did I not try to kill myself?’ One of the few existential absolutes, far more significant than ‘To be or not to be?’,


My rating:  3.5/5

Review of The Time Machine by H.G.Wells

It’s shameful to say that as an English student “I don’t read that much”, but it’s even more shameful to say ” I’m not reading anything outside the course materials.”

My NYR is to read more books but, getting back into the habit requires forming one – So, I’ll start now with the hopes that well into 2017 I’ll be able to say that I’m keeping to it.

The Time Machine is well-known as a “classic” read. Unsurprisingly I haven’t read too many of the classics and I always make the mistake of beginning with a classic after a long period of non-reading. This time around too, I made that mistake.

To sum up:

What was particularly good? : I loved the imagery in this book. Every good fantasy has well developed descriptive imagination which this book is filled with. It’s more speculative fiction but could very well cross over into fantasy.

What I didn’t enjoy: The lack of action. The narrative reminded me too much of Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The majority of the story explored the Time Traveller’s surroundings and his thought process as he tried to get used to these but this left very little space for real tension building action.

I chose to begin my reading adventure with The Time Machine because visibly, it’s such a short read but having said that, the narrative felt considerably long. I assume that this was because of its descriptive writing style but, Wells captures the characters sense of being “hopelessly trapped” incredibly well. The narrative only really takes place within a timeframe of a week, for the Time Traveller – 8 days. However, what takes place within most of these 8 days is explained in such detail that it feels like an eternity. Of course this is both world establishing but annoying at times. For a 90 page read though, I could hardly expect more.

Nevertheless the actual appeal of the story, the act of time travel was outdated, more so having read this in 2016. There are fresher and more exciting approaches to it I have no doubt but, it’s still amazing to think that in the 19th Century the imagination could reach as far as 802,701 AD and with scientific explanation behind description, Wells ideas are arguably plausible to an extent, (for someone who knows nothing about science), especially from the time he was writing in.

I did quite enjoy the idea of a possibly utopian futuristic society, especially living in a time which is much closer to the opposite but, there is also an important lesson learnt at the end of the novel – the impossibility of utopia. Wells portrays this in my opinion subtly and beautifully with the unforeseen twists throughout the story.

Although the starting is intriguing, the old Victorian English language took me a while to get it into. Once I finally settled into the 19th Century setting it was then the descriptive narrative that I had to get used to and once I was used to this, the story was a whole lot more tolerable.

On the whole, the story wasn’t gripping per say, it was merely an interesting read, as if hearing an interesting story from someone you know. This short novel is more for pastime and a quick delve into a possible future. The only problem is that it’s so far ahead in time that it’s very easy to come out of that world and back to reality. It’s definitely not a book for an escapist.

Then, in the intermittent darknesses, I saw the moon spinning swiftly through her quarters from new to full, and had a faint glimpse of the circling stars.

My rating: 3.5/5


01/01/2016 – Abominable Bride

If I did not review this episode I probably would’ve punched my self in the face with regret.
There are so few times I am motivated to review something I have recently viewed or read and in all the times I have, most of them I have usually done so either because I am absolutely profoundly in love with it or just because I need to write it for future use. This one is of the former.

It goes without saying that I am a fan of first and foremost the novels (most of which I am still in the process of reading) and of course Gatiss and Moffat’s modern TV series adaptation of Conan’s Sherlock. So naturally, when the special episode was announced to be released in January 2016 I banged my head in agony on my wooden kitchen table in the continuous torturous patience that comes with being a Sherlock fan.

Today however, after a two year wait, the blessed day arrived and like any eager soul I skipped in excitement to the nearest big screen to watch what can only be described as the most satisfying, fulfilling and awe inspiring episode in all the history of Sherlock. I will try my utmost best to write a spoiler free review but be warned that I cannot contain my excitement so if there are by chance spoilers in this review I can’t apologise. You will understand me once you have watched it yourself. Honestly some of this may not even make sense if you haven’t watched the episode, it may just sound like a fan girl’s cry of joy… But well we all have to cry once now don’t we, it’s what makes us, us.

Where to begin!? Let’s start with the throwback to the Victorian era. We all know in this day and age anything is possible, just say the word and technology will be able to solve it all for you. The cinematography in this episode is so harmonic and captivating, every moment of the episode, you are led to believe that this version is the one it always has been (ironically because it should be – that is when it is set.) You forget about the tech savvy Sherlock and Watson the blogger. Everything is reminiscent of those good old traditional book characters. The layout of the room, the props, even to the point of Watson’s moustache and Sherlock’s slick hair.

With that comes the politics which the producers have so finely mastered. It’s so relieving to watch something which displays its effort in research into history, every word has been carefully selected and has great meaning, every action has importance and value. Sherlock has always taught us this but in this episode the producers cleverly played with the history of politics of the time. They used the knowledge of today to their advantage to enhance the knowledge of the past. Seriously, Gatiss and Moffat have pure genius minds and it would make you a fool to believe otherwise. Take a modern day adaptation of Sherlock, keep all the actors in their respective character roles but place them in a slightly older period in time (making sure that you are adhering to those social, historical and political values.) Finally, take some of those brilliant ideas from the modern day adaptations and throw them in there as well. If that does not amaze you, you need to push away your pride and appreciate the beauty in man’s capabilities.

If none of that made sense then what I am trying to say is that they have basically taken the set from Sherlock, transformed it into an older version without actually transforming it much at all. Well except the kitchen goes and technology is replaced with equivalents. It’s just all too clever.

Let’s move on from my poor attempt to make you understand something that will only be understood once you’ve watched it. The politics then. Oh it was just magnificent. Female empowerment! And what better way to do it than to have THE Sherlock Holmes, usually selfish, conceit, self centred and vain talk about the strength, intelligence and relevance of a woman. There was no better way any women could’ve put it themselves and at the same time there is self development. Sherlock and Watson both recognise their mistreatment of women in all the previous cases and in general and become more aware of their actions.

One thing I loved about this episode was its smack in the face, right there, thrilling Gothicism. A much needed reminder of the true horror of the murders that Sherlock dealt with in the novels and the reality of crime solving in the Victorian era. It was also a dark little advance on the tense modern adaptations. The colours, the music and of course narrative had you gripping your armrest or popcorn (or whatever else you had in your hand) because it was not anything you were expecting. The kind that makes you shiver because it’s so close to reality.

There are just so many things I could go on about I have barely even touched the surface with these descriptions, but I want to keep it short so I’ll end it with the main and most important part of the whole experience. The story! For the story there just aren’t enough words to describe it which will do it any kind of justice but this episode was (she says in the most cliché terms ever) a rollercoaster ride. Ever wanted to be a part of the cast, or a part of the story, one of the characters even if it was just a minor character? This episode more than any other will have you feeling attached and then slightly (in my case more so) upset that Sherlock is just a character and that you were just a viewer watching the magics of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and oh God.. Every blumin’ actor that was ever a part of Sherlock. In this episode I think it is fair to say that they have achieved the ‘no such thing as a small character’ idea. Every actor and consequently every character was a beautiful part of the series and I could write pages worth on each one of their brilliancies. I should though, end it now…

I shall leave the review on this note however, if Sherlock were real and living in our world, it would be (from a fan girls point of view) way too good to be true (this is me taking into account his original sour character) #loyal.

Review of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I can’t remember the last time I read a book that was even remotely gothic horror, was it Great Expectations or maybe it was that chapter in Harry Potter, either way it has been years…

The Haunting of Hill House has everything you need to know in the title, whether this is a good thing or not is entirely up to you to decide but it definitely doesn’t leave room for mystery.
Being an absolute novice in the horror genre I have nothing to compare this book to, so forgive me if you have a strong opposing opinion on this book or just anything I’ve said but I have warned you. My bit is done.

We’ll start at the beginning because the beginning was something I really enjoyed reading. A third person narrative is always somewhat healthier. While you can immerse yourself in the book there is still distance from the character/s. You don’t become attached. Jackson sort of throws everything at you in the beginning of the book but as I write this it’s dawning on me that she does that all the way through.

You are first thrown into this scene of the house, a dark and uninviting place and then thrown into the life of Dr Montague from there you’re just thrown into the life of Eleanor and so on from one character to another. This gives the story a fast pace which is certainly a good start but also it doesn’t dwell on any one thing, (for a page or so yes, on Eleanor as she is the main character here around which the story focuses) every piece of information that is given is vital and this creates the effect that the story is progressing fast and action will soon take place.

When the characters are finally together there are times when I felt like I was reading a child’s book, the language becomes a bit more basic and the way the two characters Eleanor and Theodora communicate reminded me of children. I had to remind myself that they are much older and convince myself that adults sometimes talk like this.

As for the story, I thoroughly enjoyed it, tucked into bed with a dim light and telling myself that my house is not evil. No seriously, it was a chilling story in my opinion, (because i haven’t read that many chilling stories I guess) yes i’m a lightweight and yes, I will be improving this. Jackson’s narrative technique is unique and although the end was a bit confusing it still made me shudder. If you do happen to read the book, i’m going to be honest and say I’m actually glad it ended the way it did… Brutal but honest. My overall rating would be 4 stars.

Review of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

Instinctively my hand just wants to type out all the aspects of this book that were just downright weird but that would be spoiling it so here’s a quick review on Perfume (with a struggling attempt to leave out the spoilers).

I understand and it can be proven through my experiences that the context in which a book is received could have a strong impact on the way it is interpreted. So I feel it only fair to let you know that it may have done so on this occasion. Let me explain…

This book is part of my course material and so under a very strict time frame (due to my own faults) I was forced to read it hence I may have disliked some parts more than others merely because of the pressure I felt to finish the book as fast as possible.

With all that being said, Perfume turned out to be an interesting novel.  I said weird to begin with because it falls into the category of a kind of gothic/fantasy so naturally if there wasn’t the feeling of uncanny I would be confused for that matter.

It was weird in that the unexpected waited around the corner just when you think you are able to predict what is going to happen. You may ask why is that weird, that’s a good thing. You’re right it is a good thing but it gives you the feeling that you can never really tell what kind of character Grenouille is albeit having been given all the information about him.This does, thankfully change as you go on. You start to feel more comfortable with him as the protagonist.

The narrative is also surprising as it goes so deep into the lives of each character but then very quickly disregards them too.

Now, there is death and then there is death and sometimes I wonder if authors like Süskind had written this novel from first hand experiences due to the sinister narrative tone. A lot of the novels I have read recently in which such gruesome or sinister themes occur, are presented through omniscient narrators and it is a bit eery. In my opinion this allows you to become the narrator and essentially it’s like you are telling the story. With Perfume however, there were a number of time while reading that I stopped and thought, woah, this guy (Grenouille) is messed up – but then again they all are.

One thing I really enjoyed about this novel was its descriptive language. It’s all sensual -once you begin to read you will understand why- but being a different type of description from normal, it was not only unusual to get used to but also a bit overbearing to begin with. You do get used to it eventually though.

I did not, enjoy parts in the middle that seemed unrealistic even for a fantasy, these were usually the parts where detail was absent. Other parts that ruined my reading was the boring repetition of Grenouille’s desire but this wasn’t too often so I managed to push through.

In terms of plot, it is defined at the beginning and on through Grenouille’s early years, what he wishes to do but it was hard for me to see the purpose of the story and the message that it conveyed. The message taken away can really be anything you mean it to be once you reach the end. There is a vague one given by Süskind, but it can be taken, left or even changed depending on your will.

From all I can remember at this point in time, I think this concludes this review but please feel free to ask any questions that you may have in case I am forgetting something. My overall rating would be 4 stars and I would recommend it as an intermediate read.

Review of The Birthmark by N. Hawthorne and The Yellow Wallpaper by C. P. Gilman

Not nearly as weird as I had expected from friend’s reviews, but this may have been because The Black Cat by Poe (which I had read prior) set the bar very high. Maybe weird is the wrong word, because both stories had their own weird charm about them. Shocking is probably a more appropriate word to use but I will explain this further later on.

I have decided to review both these texts simultaneously as they are both short stories and alone the reviews would have read short but I will try my best to be most informative as possible.

Unlike many 19th Century novels and stories I didn’t find it too hard to get into the story. The Birthmark has an unexpectedly long beginning sentence but the subject of it made it bearable and then everything after that on the first few pages was fulfilling in that it provides you with a lot of information. The Yellow Wallpaper has in my opinion a much clearer opening sentence that attempts to grab the readers attention. It didn’t quite interest me right away I did have to read on and it was the second sentence that made me want to continue reading more than the first.

Inevitably both stories have to get in as much important information possible crammed into a limited word count but also resist to over inform so that it doesn’t confuse the reader. I can only say that they have managed to do it but it is not surprising being the authors they are.

There were times in The Birthmark where I felt that Hawthorne could have left parts out but he knows best. While reading The Yellow Wallpaper I felt to skip some parts just so I could find out what happens (although I didn’t and it didn’t do me any harm) as it sounded like it repeated parts but this was most likely for emphasis.

Now, as traditional gothic stories both stories provide the generic conventions and this is what as 21st century readers makes the story predictable rather than shocking. In comparison to The Black Cat which contains a bit extra of the surreal and ‘The Uncanny’ as Freud would say, these two stories keep it very close to reality and yet there is the element of the unfamiliarity which still keeps us enticed.

To sum up a very short review of The Birthmark and The Yellow Wallpaper, the two short stories are perfect for a quick relief from reality. Touching on dark matters in a short matter of time it’s more like a train read rather than a bed time read. They wake up your mind to imagination and although imbedded within are some serious conflicts of social, historical contexts, it is quite easy to forget it and lose yourself in the gothic world… If you allow yourself to.