TITLE: All The Birds, Singing
AUTHOR: Evie Wyld
GENRE: Mystery, Contemporary, Adult, Literary Fiction
RATING: 4/5 Stars
Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It’s just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep – every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags.
It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake’s unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back.
What I Liked:
- Evie Wyld's writing is absolutely flawless. From the first to the last line I was captivated by it's total brutality, yet there was a strange sense of beauty hidden underneath the violence. She completely transported me to a different place and managed at times to make me smile, to nauseate me, and to horrify me. There's a lot of symbolism in this book too and I loved it!
- The characters were memorable. Despite the fact that the book jumps around in time a lot, I still managed to remember who everyone was. There were likeable, funny characters (like Lloyd, Don and Greg) among the nastier ones (Otto for sure, Clare too). Yet Wyld captured them all wonderfully, good or bad, and gave them all complexities within their characterisation.
What I Disliked:
- Like I mentioned before, the book does jump around a lot. This made it hard at times to completely keep up with what was going on. At the start of each chapter, I never knew where in time I was or which characters I had met, and I had to wait for Wyld to give me a clue. Still, I think Wyld did handle the reverse chronological order quite well, I did still understand what was happening and I have seen books that jump around a lot handle it very badly.
- I think the main thing that I wasn't keen about was the ending. It felt very vague and ambiguous to begin with, and most importantly: it felt unresolved. The last two chapters made no real sense to me and I couldn't really grasp what the ending even was. I realised as well, having finished, that previous story-lines were not very well ended. For example, I wasn't clear still exactly how she got to England, and the event that made her decide to leave Alan and his sheep-shearing crew.
There were so many good points to this book. Namely, Wyld's writing style was one of the best that I have seen in a long time. I will warn everyone that if you're faint of heart or easily shocked, this book might not be the best to read. There is some pretty nauseating content: sexual abuse, prostitution, and graphic descriptive writing. There were some very well-written characters in the book too and it was interesting to learn their various pasts and how they fit in with the story as a whole. Nevertheless, the plot felt a little all over the place and the ending didn't feel very final. It was a little disappointing to read after such a great build-up.