Review – The Sundial

17349743The Sundial, Shirley Jackson

The pleasure of reading The Sundial is in the quality of Jackson’s prose, the cleverness of the way she does character and plot through dialogue or limited narration, the way she can take almost any scene and infuse it with that little frission of dread and foreboding. I’m not as much a fan of it as I am of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, though there are commonalities; most of the characters are detestable, which is not something I get along with, and all but one or two are quite weak personalities, which means they don’t act much versus a single powerful character — which makes that character repellently appealing, but makes the rest of them seem pretty insipid.

Overall, it’s never clear whether this is meant to be horror, literary, fantasy/spec fic, whatever. It can be what you want it to be. What it is really is a story about people and the way they act and react, and how difficult it would be to find people who are really worthy of inheriting a new world. You don’t have to accept that the world is really ending, only that the characters believe so.

As you’d expect, there’s also a fine sense of place; the Hallorans’ home is a character in the story too. There’s a lot of description of it, which is all revealing of character and the history of the family, but if you don’t have the patience for it, that might seem quite slow.

Rating: 3/5

Stacking the Shelves

Aaand it’s Saturday again, already! Where does the time go? Here’s my Stacking the Shelves post for this week…

Comics TPBs

Cover of Hawkeye: LA Woman by Matt Fraction Cover of Captain Marvel Higher Faster Further More by Kelley Sue DeConnick Cover of Ms Marvel: No Normal by Adrian Alphona

Cover of Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread Cover of She-Hulk: Law and Disorder Cover of Red She-Hulk: Hell Hath No Fury

Sooo happy to have these TPBs. It’s awesome that Fraction has focused on Kate Bishop as well as Clint Barton; and of course I’m excited about Captain Marvel. Ms Marvel I’ve been intending to read for ages — I’ve actually been putting the comics covers in my STS posts as each individual issue released on Comixology, but now I own them in proper collected edition! Easier to read. The She-Hulk and Black Widow comics were impulse buys, but I love that I’ve had six superhero comics focusing on women hit my doormat this week. And hey, Captain Marvel film with Carol Danvers announced!

Just please don’t talk to me about the (probable? rumoured? I don’t even know anymore) casting of Dr Strange, because I’m not over the disappointment yet.

Dead tree books

Cover of If On a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively The Lottery & Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

17349743 Cover of The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett Cover of Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges

Cover of The Mistletoe Bride by Kate Mosse Review of The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

I came home from visiting my partner last Saturday, and there was a “small” spree. Oops? But I’d never bought anything from the new bookshop in St Pancras before (Hatchard’s), so I had to have a look. And I’ve been meaning to try more Borges and Calvino, and I like Shirley Jackson already, and…

Contributor copies

Cover of Lightspeed: Women Destroy SF ed. Christie Yant Cover of Fantasy: Women Destroy Fantasy ed. Cat Rambo

Nah, I don’t have a story in here (though if you know my name, you can find it somewhere in Lightspeed) — I’m a slush reader for Lightspeed, and Wendy Wagner was kind enough to make sure I got my contributor copies despite not getting my original email response about it. I don’t actually think anything in either volume came through me first, but I did read/rate ~30 submissions for the two collections, so I have done my bit. (I’m on ~50 submissions read/rated for regular Lightspeed!)