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Member Reviews

I was excited by the storyline and couldn’t wait to start exploring the outer Hebrides and characters within this book. 

However I found this a very difficult book to read and I was put off partially by the lack of speech marks when characters were speaking. It may be quite a minor thing to some but for me it made the text clumsy and confusing. 

The characters lacked depth for me and their actions were at times bizarre. The plot was difficult to follow at times it appeared as though key points had been omitted. 

I’m afraid it was a DNF for me which disappointed me as I felt this could have been s wonderful book. 

ARC copy received through NetGalley.
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For me this was quite an obscure book, in which I could appreciate some decent and well-constructed prose style, and the somewhat plausible development of characters. Compared to the descriptions and blurb that I read prior to delving into the novel, the book was not what I expected. Legge builds an interesting alternate world around the female characters and offers readers some pondering concepts about how we live, sexism and how culture or society may dictate the way we behave. Longings for escape juxtapose well with the continued references to the learned behaviours and rituals the women face day in and day out, thus being the main source of engagement for readers. Perhaps as a lesser fan of the fantasy genre which this seems to lend heavily from, I am somewhat easily dissuaded from the overall success and appeal of this book. it just wasn't what I expected. 

A read, really, for those who appreciate the imagined worlds and oddities of fantasy fiction; think along the lines of Pratchett or Gaiman, with perhaps what we could call a more serious undertone. Overall a well written book, which has purpose and conviction in the world and characters it presents. It just was not what was anticipated.

#Cala #netgalley
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Take the idiosyncratic female-centric community at the heart of The First Book of Calamity Leek; add the bleak and isolated setting of Little Eve and the shifting, muddy nature of Everything Under; and you’d end up with something like Cala. This is a strange, slippery novel, a cacophony of creative language that only occasionally comes into focus.

Cala is a farmhouse on the Hebridean island of Pullhair. It’s home to a tiny commune consisting of ex-lovers Muireall and Grace and teenage cousins Euna and Lili. The relationships between the four women are tangled and odd, their rituals obscure and apparently random. (Others believe them to be a coven of witches.) The text seems to skip over much of what, in another book, would be the pertinent details. Yet jewel-like sentences kept catching my eye: Under the world’s grey roof, she was the only bright furniture.

The plot follows Euna as she grows dissatisfied with the coven and travels to the mainland in search of a new life. As I read on, it became obvious that the strange relationships were not confined to Cala itself, but are in fact a hallmark of the book. Everyone behaves so bizarrely and implausibly, and often in ways that are borderline disturbing, towards everyone else. I often felt like I was reading a fantasy novel set on some far-flung planet, not a story situated in modern Scotland.

Ultimately I couldn’t get to grips with the characters’ weird interactions. I do think this book has the potential to be really popular, though. It possesses a poetic and emotive style that’s in vogue at the moment, a way of evoking myth and magic within a nominally contemporary narrative.
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Beautiful, haunting writing that made my hairs stand on end. I felt completely immersed in the wild Scottish landscape. Perfect for fans of Sarah Hall or Daisy Johnson.
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