Friday, 18 December 2015

Book review - Juniper's Shadow - Fiona Dodwell

Leighton Banks is a 29 year old guy living with his partner; Jessica, heavily pregnant and the main bread winner in the relationship, due to him walking out of his previous job at Adam's General Store. A job that he hated, a boss that he didn't like, and stuck in a rut of demeaning, degrading duties.

With the support of Jessica, Leighton persues his life long ambition to set up his own music store, one that will indulge his true passion; the store is to specialise in rare and obscure music. 

His childhood and upbringing by his father; a salt of the earth guy who enjoyed life's simple pleasures, laid the foundation for his love of music. His taste catered to the wide, wonderful and sometimes weird.

Whilst at a record fair in Drury Lane, Leighton picks up a few collectable items, and stumbles across a small store that is selling un-marked and seemingly worthless vinyl. Almost passing the store by, his interest is sparked when he finds a copy of a record called 'Juniper's Shadow' by an artist called Victor Marlow from the mid 1940's. Initially the trader is reluctant to sell the pressing because of its sinister history, this is where the story kicks off.

Being a short story, I can't really give too much away, but I can guarantee that in a few pages, Fiona creates a twisted little tale of tragedy that will really get under your skin.

The most difficult thing to do with a short story is to create characters that the reader can connect with, and are believable. Dodwell does this effortlessly. Her writing is flawless, this story caters for what I suspect is two of her own passions - music and the macabre.

If, like me, you are a vinyl head; 3000 odd records stacked up in the garage may confirm that, then this story will really ignite a spark within you. There is nothing quite like the feel of holding that sleeve in your hands, you can feel the texture, inhale the aroma of the vinyl, enjoy the crackling sound as the stylus bears into the cutting; pure ecstasy.

This is only the second thing that I have read from Fiona Dodwell, the other was her contribution towards The Dichotomy of Christmas - The Wassall. A story that I already had placed in my top three from the book. I enjoy her style of writing, colourful and intense descriptives really paint a picture in just a few words. She is a talented writer, no doubt about that, and one who's work I will be persuing further.

My rating for Juniper's Shadow - 5/5. Eerily spectacular. My recommendation; go read it, then persue Fiona's new book - Nails. I will be.


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