Tuesday, 10 February 2015
With National Literacy Week on the horizon, I was asked to contribute to a list of most-anticipated 2015 releases over on tombola times. There are some great suggestions there, so do check out the full list - I'll certainly be looking out for some of these.
I had to think really, really hard about this one. I get quite a lot of advance review copies, so I'm regularly reading books that aren't out yet, but it's still a lot of pressure to select one title in particular that stands out.
Since Joanna and I started Strange Charm, I've been consciously reading more widely and diversely, which has led to discovering a number of books that I might otherwise have missed.
Signal to Noise is one such: a tale of magic and community set in Mexico City. For me, one of the greatest pleasures of reading is the opportunity to immerse myself in another world - which I suppose is why I read so much fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction in the first place. This title stood out for its combination of a unique magical style with a detailed portrayal of Mexican family life.
The story follows Meche through two phases of her life: as she discovers magic in her teenage years, and years later, when she returns to Mexico City as an adult to attend her father's funeral.
The magic Meche and her friends discover is enmeshed in music, and it's brutal. This is not the story of a teenage heroine saving the world: rather, it's a recognisable portrayal of just what might unfold if a troubled girl was given the power to throw out physical harm along with angry words.
As an adult, Meche is still haunted by her youthful experiences. She thinks she's put her childhood behind her, but all she's really succeeded in doing is running away. Forced to return and confront her disfunctional family, and her one-time friends,
The result is a thoughtful, unusual look at the consequences of magic, projected firmly into the real world and its everyday concerns.
Signal to Noise is published today.