Category: 42 Word Reviews

The Screaming Staircase

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Doubleday, 2013); audiobook read by Miranda Raison (Random House Audio, 2013) Competent world-building and good characterisation (particularly via Raison’s audiobook reading), though Lucy exhibits less personality than Lockwood or George and is a slightly disappointing viewpoint character. The story is fun and at times gripping, yet feels constructed, following a too-neat narrative blueprint.

Jeeves and the Leap of Faith

Jeeves and the Leap of Faith by Ben Schott (Little, Brown and Company, 2020); audiobook read by Daniel Ings (Hachette, 2020) An earnest but ultimately pallid homage. The characters are in keeping, the plot suitably entangled. But while conscientious, Schott’s pastiche lacks the trenchant delivery with which Wodehouse chivvied his characters towards the denouement (here lacking). Ings’s audiobook reading is…

Monster House

Monster House dir. Gil Kenan (2006) A straightforward Halloween feature-length animation with horror vibes and a more-awkward-than-funny pubescent love triangle. The humour is pitched at tweens and below, while the backstory of Mr Nebbercracker and the house feels very much tacked-on. Not bad, but in no way remarkable.

A Life on Our Planet

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future by David Attenborough (Ebury, 2020); audiobook read by David Attenborough (Penguin Audio, 2020) A hugely important book, in equal parts depressing (what we’ve done to the planet and the dire fate that awaits our species) and inspiring (the action plans being put into effect to bring…

The Visitor: How & Why He Stayed

The Visitor: How & Why He Stayed by Mike Mignola & Chris Roberson; ill. Paul Grist (Dark Horse Books, 2017) An engaging enough graphic novel on the peripheries of Hellboy’s world. Instead of assassinating the infant Hellboy, a mysterious alien chooses to observe his development—while himself living a human life and effortlessly repelling demonic manifestations. Murky, glossy, at times distorted…