Daphne du Maurier – The King’s General [REVIEW]

Title: The King’s General

Author: Daphne du Maurier

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 376

Rating: 3.5/5  

Daphne du Maurier is one of those authors who I find to be hit and miss, and this one, for me, was a miss. But there’s a reason for that, which is that it’s historical fiction. I very rarely find historical fiction to be enjoyable to read, mostly because I think writers tend to over-focus on the history and to forget about the fiction part.

But that’s not really true here. Du Maurier tells a decent story with some pretty strong characterisation, and I also found it interesting that one of her characters is struggling with a disability. You don’t see that too often in historical fiction, and du Maurier does it well.

Still, it wasn’t a particularly gripping read, and the most interesting parts for me were the bits where du Maurier talked about the places, because there was some crossover there with some of her other books.

I also think that I enjoyed this book a little more than I otherwise might have done because I listened to it as an audio book. For whatever reason, I find that du Maurier is more enjoyable via audio. Perhaps it has something to do with her writing style.

Other than that, I don’t have much more to say about this one. It’s a decent enough read if that’s your sort of thing, but it really isn’t the kind of thing that I like. I’m glad that I picked it up because I’m slowly working my way through du Maurier’s back catalogue, but I wouldn’t have read this one if it had been written by anyone else.

Du Maurier just has a little something magical about her, and there’s plenty of that magic on offer here. That’s why I’m still giving it a 3.5/5, albeit a weak one. That’s my default rating for a professional quality book, and du Maurier was the consummate professional, even when she was writing in a genre like this one.

Oh, and you should bear in mind while you’re reading it that Menabilly is the prototype for Manderley. That makes it worth reading to die-hard fans, if nothing else.

Learn more about The King’s General.

Sophie Hannah – Haven’t They Grown [REVIEW]

Title: Haven’t They Grown

Author: Sophie Hannah

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 346

Rating: 3.5/5  

All right, so here we have another one of Sophie Hannah’s thrillers, and while I guess you could say that she does a pretty good job of things, I’m not convinced that she does any better than any other thriller writer. In fact, I’m starting to wonder whether I even like the genre.

The hook here is pretty good. Our protagonist goes back to sneak a look at someone she’d known 12 years ago, and she discovers that the kids don’t look a day older. It’s an interesting start, and it kind of forces you as the reader to keep on going until the end just to find out what’s happening. If you’re anything like me, you’ll also have a bunch of theories which might explain it.

The problem is that, for me at least, the rest of the book doesn’t deliver on this early promise. The characters are also pretty unlikeable too, which is standard for a thriller but which has always been a turn-off for me. I find it difficult to care too much about the action when I think the characters deserve whatever they get.

Having said that, I can’t give this any less than a 3.5/5 because that’s my default rating for a professional quality book. Hannah is a competent writer and does a great job with her characterisation and plotting, and even if it didn’t entirely hit the mark for me, I think that’s more to do with my personal preferences as a reader than Hannah’s skills as a writer.

I also think I enjoyed it more than I enjoy Hannah’s Waterhouse and Zailer series, which are more like police procedural crime novels than generic thrillers. And if you like thrillers and you’re interested in the setup for the book, I think you’ll probably want to pick this one up and give it a go. It might not be great, but it’s good enough to keep you reading it.

Learn more about Haven’t They Grown.