Author: Derelict Space Sheep

The Famous Five: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

The Famous Five: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know by Normal Wright; ill. Eileen Soper (Hodder, 2000) An odd, rather pointless reference book, bolstered by colour illustrations and snippets of information about Enid Blyton’s life and inspirations, yet mainly just a plodding recapitulation of Famous Five characters, plot lines and themes—which readers would already know from the novels.


Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu (The Dark Blue, 1871-1872) A very early vampire novella, constrained by attitudes of the time yet nonetheless pursuing a lesbian angle and affording an uncommon measure of female empowerment. Le Fanu for the most part hints subtly at the supernatural, but resorts at last to exposition.

Painting in the Shadows

Painting in the Shadows by Katherine Kovacic (Echo, 2019); audiobook read by Casey Withoos (W.F. Howes, 2020) Though the mystery and its investigation are quite slight, Kovacic concocts a cosy and somewhat fraught intrigue throughout. The text shines with passion for art, while Alex and John’s female/male friendship shows real Australian personality. Hogarth the Irish Wolfhound remains a delight.

Full Bore

Full Bore by William McInnes (Hachette, 2016); audiobook read by William McInnes (W F Howes, 2017) A gentle, rather wistful gathering together of memories and musings. McInnes presents recollections within recollections, the weave of his stories constituting less a riotous series of anecdotes and more an appreciation of life as a mosaic of shared happiness and small moments.

Ella Minnow Pea

Ella Minnow Pea: A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable by Mark Dunn (MacAdam/Cage, 2001) Not as clever or amusing as it imagines itself to be, but still an effective satire on government, dogma and the corrupting influence of absolute power. With the loss of language (denoting civil liberties), even the most eloquent of societies quickly degenerates.

The Case of the Gilded Fly

The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin (Victor Gollancz, 1944); audiobook read by Paul Panting (HarperCollins, 2017) Crispin’s quasi-humorous style (satirically intended but sordidly directed) comes across merely as tiresome. The mystery’s ‘ingenious’ solution proves elusive mostly due to being ludicrously improbable and thoroughly reliant on coincidences. Gervase Fen, though a striking protagonist, doesn’t appear for the first…


RocknRolla dir. Guy Ritchie (2008) The usual Ritchie blend of half-sinister, half-hapless gangsters carrying on their respective operations and out-scheming one another. Apart from some impossible-to-kill Russians, a bit light on the humour necessary to elevate its Gordian plot knot above intricately self-absorbed and style-heavy dicking about.

A Pinch of Magic

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison (Simon & Schuster Children’s, 2019); audiobook read by Nicky Diss (Simon Schuster Audio, 2019) An assured fairy tale fantasy on the developmental cusp where MG turns to YA. The setting is grim, the story a gripping, character-driven adventure that twists genre to sidestep contrivance. Betty and her sisters have real personality, especially in…