Book Review: The Silkworm

 

‘When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls private detective Cormoran Strike. At first she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.’

‘The Silkworm’ is the second novel in the Cormoran Strike series, written by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K Rowling). I worked in a charity shop last summer, and bought this there in September, however only picked it up at the start of this year. ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’, the first book in this series, was appealing and interesting, so I had high hopes for ‘The Silkworm’.

I should say right now that I am a big JKR fan. I grew up with Harry Potter, and devoured ‘The Casual Vacancy’ the day it was released. I look up to her as a writer and enjoy much of her work. It is surprising, then, that I wasn’t massively impressed with this book. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but she lost me several times along the way. As I said, I picked this up at the start of the year. University work along with other things has led me to stop and start it several times, so maybe this is what made it so difficult for me to engage with the plot. Making myself sit down and finish it over the last few days, in order to review it, has improved my opinion of it. It’s well written and clearly well thought out, but still felt over complicated.

Part of the problem was the amount of background characters. While all important to the overall outcome and all well written, it was confusing to keep track of them all and fully keep up with the storyline. I felt like as soon as I got a handle on everyone and started to get on top of the plot, a new character was introduced. The plot itself was convoluted and twisted – this is to be expected in crime fiction, however in this case I didn’t feel like it was necessary to the degree that Rowling took it. There was a lot of backtracking, and much of the process felt repetitive; several interviews made up a large part of the middle of the book, and these were largely forgotten by the end, for example.

One thing Rowling always does well, however, and this is no exception, is write realistic characters. Strike, Robin, Matthew and a few others from ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ return in this, and go through some serious character development. Robin and Matthew finally discuss Robin’s career goals and relationship with Cormoran, who in turn deals with his ex-fiancée’s very public new engagement and subsequent marriage. Robin comes into her own and Strike begins to see her in a more equal light than before; she is no longer seen as just a receptionist but someone with ambition and talent for detective work – which we the readers have seen all along. It’s satisfying to see these characters develop, and the new characters we are introduced to have a lot of depth. I may not have engaged with the plot as well as I’d hoped, but I can’t fault Rowling’s ability to create characters that are believable and relatable.

Overall, the novel was good, but for me personally it was a bit of a disappointment – it didn’t excite me like much of Rowling’s other work. It was a decent read, and I may in fact read the next in the series, however ‘The Casual Vacancy’ triggered a much more passionate reaction in me (as did Harry Potter, quite obviously – although I’m trying to avoid comparisons with that for obvious reasons). I wanted to discuss it and the themes involved in detail, although as a largely political book I suppose that was the aim. ‘The Silkworm’ was enjoyable, but for me it was just too drawn out.

Ro x

She

A/N: So I actually wrote this a while ago for an assignment but as I’ve been really busy this weekend (I’m sure you’ll hear all about it!). It’s really dark (again), so I apologise -we’ll have something happy soon, I promise!

See you soon,

Ro x 

TW: Self-Harm 

I take a deep breath and open the box. There she is, staring at me. She’s always been there, watching. I never thought the day would come that I would need her touch again; I thought I could live without her, but she knew better. She has waited patiently in the darkness, knowing that I’d take comfort in her vigilance. She’s addictive, and she knows I can’t stay away.

I pick her up, the cold stinging my skin. It’s seductive, sensual even. I almost manage a smile for my old friend. She’s as smooth as she was the last time we met, and still as sharp. The light dances off her as I move her around, inspecting her carefully. She’s mocking me, daring me to just try it once more, just one tiny touch. I hesitate. I know that if I do this, I can’t turn back. I won’t be able to let go, and I’ll fall once again. I wipe my eyes, and let her stroke my arm. Fuck the consequences.

It’s just a gentle touch, at first. She glides along, teasing me with her kisses. A tiny drop of blood appears and I sigh – she’s won.  She nuzzles deeper into my skin, running faster with every stroke. I throw my head back, the pain taking over. My thoughts and feelings leak out with every streamer of red. There’s nothing now; nothing but me, and her, and the pain. I run the tap and watch the red swim faster. The water fades to a pale pink and eventually runs clear as the bleeding stops. I turn off the tap, let the last of the water drain, and drop her in the sink, wrapping a towel around my arm. She glints in the light; one last flirty wink. Red is her colour, and she knows it. I try and ignore that nagging feeling of regret, and enjoy the brief sense of relief she’s given me.

I take a quick peek at my arm. Harsh, burgundy claw marks tear through the porcelain white skin – glaringly ugly, damning evidence. It looks as though something, someone, is stuck under there, implanted in my body, trying to escape. I suppose, in a way, that’s the truth.

The Nostalgia Trip

A/N: This got a lot darker than I intended, hope you enjoy all the same. -Ro x

 

Tap, tap, tap, tap. She walks slowly, becoming increasingly aware of the sound of her shoes against the terracotta tiles. Her breathing is laboured; she’s walked these halls so many times, yet everything has changed now. It’s almost pitch black, she’s never seen the place this dark before. If she shut her eyes she’d be able to picture exactly where she is, but that’s not an option – closed eyes would open her up to weakness. She keeps close to the wall on her right, and as she imagines the peeling blue paint her shoulder brushes up against one of the many posters they’d tacked over the scruffiest parts of the walls. She puts her hand on it, and knows exactly which one it is. It’s advertising a cake sale, the last one they’d ever had – she felt the roughness of glitter under her fingertips. She’s not far.
She keeps on, passing a set of double doors to her left. She ducks, crossing over to the left hand side of the corridor as she passes a large window – she’s too close to risk putting herself in any danger. Finally, she gets to the second set of double doors. She slips through them quietly, finding herself in the hallway she knows all too well. She can’t see it, but she can picture it vividly – the looming cast iron staircase to her right, the battered radiator to her left. It was always getting repainted before, but it probably hadn’t been touched in years. She smiles as she remembers the alcove under the stairs, and can’t help herself.
Instead of going directly up the stairs to her destination, she creeps towards the alcove. She leans against the cool wall, as she had done so many times before. She breathes deeply, letting herself relax for just a moment – but even that is too long. She feels the cold metal barrel of a gun against the left side of her head. The bearer of the gun steps close to her, and she’s not surprised that she knows who it is instantly. The body heat that used to be such a comfort burns her as his familiar smell makes her gag.
‘I’m glad I’m not the only one who remembers our first kiss. You always were nostalgic, Callie.’ She hears a short release of breath as he smirks. ‘Silly little girl.’ He pulls the trigger.

First Posts.

First posts are the worst! I feel awkward just saying it! The introductory ‘about me’ post feels so odd but just getting straight in with regular content seems unnatural and impersonal when this is, after all, a personal blog. So, about me it is.

I’m Roisin, but my friends call me Rose or Ro. If you thought it said Raisin you’re not the first, don’t worry – I’ve had much worse! I’m 21, and as of two nights ago I just finished a degree in English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University. I’m from a tiny village in Warwickshire, I’m a member of Girlguiding UK and am in training to become a Brownie leader. I love dogs, LUSH cosmetics, and chocolate – pretty standard stuff, really. I don’t know for sure where my life is going, but I’m ready to see what I can do and excited to see where I can go from here.

I started this blog for a variety of reasons. The main reason is that I want to do something with my degree -I want to write and create and I want this blog to be a way for me to do that even if I wind up being unable to in my career. Of course it would be a dream come true to become a professional writer, but it’s simply not realistic at this point; all I can do is keep writing and hope for the best. On the less creative side, I have so much to say and nowhere to really say it; my boyfriend and friends hear enough of me moaning without having to hear about Shakespeare or politics or Kim Kardashian’s self image on top of that! I hope this blog can provide a space for me to talk about all of these things in a way that one, my friends can pick and choose when and what they engage with, and two will attract like-minded people. I have so many ideas for this blog and I’ve no idea where it will end up – it could end up a themed blog doing book reviews, it could be a political blog, it could just be Carrie Bradshaw-style rants about my personal life. Let’s find out!

I can feel myself getting cheesy and I’m sure I will want to edit this again as soon as I’ve posted it, so I’m just going to sign off.

See you soon,

Ro x