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7:00am Saturday 5th May 2012 in Books
A look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.
By Kate Whiting.
The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £19.99. Available now.
Coming fresh to Stephen King's The Dark Tower series was not the problem I feared, as he delivers on his promise in the foreword to make the story suitable for newcomers and veteran fans alike.
The series is King's version of a fantasy epic in the same vein as the Lord Of The Rings but he includes tropes used in other fantasies, such as characters and incidents from parallel worlds overlapping with each other.
There is even a nod to Aslan from CS Lewis's Narnia tales at one point, although I doubt Lewis would have approved of the occasional explicit language used in this story.
King once more provides a good read with a well-plotted story involving a hunt for a "skin-man" who can change from human to deadly animal.
The book is always entertaining as it follows the saga of Roland Deschain, a gunslinger in Mid-World, and provides an entertainingly tense fairytale sub-plot.
7/10 (Review by Chris Gibbings) Scenes From Early Life by Philip Hensher is published in hardback by Fourth Estate, priced £18.99. Available now.
The latest novel from Booker-nominated author Philip Hensher is set during the fight for Bangladesh's independence and is partly inspired by Hensher's husband, Zaved Mahmood, who was born in Dacca in 1970.
The novel follows the interspersed lives of an upper-class Bengali family living under the regime of West Pakistan militants.
The culture of Bengal, what was then called East Pakistan, is under threat. All Bengali literature is burned, it becomes illegal to carry a musical instrument and women are required to have a male escort at all times.
The novel is told in the form of a memoir, narrated by Zaved, a young boy in the four-generation family.
Scenes From Early Life is a sensitive and insightful account of the Bengali split from Pakistan, and Hensher sheds light on a brutal struggle for independence through his personalised accounts of family life.
7/10 (Review by Daisy Wyatt) The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman is published in hardback by Doubleday, priced £12.99. Available April 26.
When a boat bearing the body of a man and a crying baby washes on to the shores of the isolated island that is home to lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne and wife Isabel, it seems like the answer to the childless couple's prayers.
Still in mourning for her lost baby, Isabel persuades Tom to make a decision that will change both of their lives.
It is no coincidence that the island, off the coast of Western Australia, is called Janus, after the Roman god with two faces.
Tom is still scarred by memories of serving on the Western Front and refuses to discuss his past, while Isabel finds that the desire to be a mother transforms her completely.
ML Stedman proves herself to be an accomplished writer in this, her debut novel. While the premise may be extraordinary, she handles it with sensitivity that prevents The Light Between Oceans slipping into the outlandish.
Like a lighthouse, it shines light on dark places, and its emotional resonance will stay with the reader for days.
8/10 (Review by Lauren Turner) Can We Still Be Friends by Alexandra Shulman is published in hardback by Fig Tree, priced £12.99. Available now.
British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman takes us back to 1980s London to follow the lives of three university friends in her debut novel Can We Still Be Friends.
In an era where Margaret Thatcher and Duran Duran are a part of the popular culture, graduates Annie, Salome and Kendra are finding their way into adulthood.
Ambitious and intelligent Sal is trying to carve a niche in the cut-throat world of journalism, Annie is looking for the man of her dreams, while the maverick Kendra finds herself rebelling against her opulent parents' views and lifestyle.
But when love, obsession, ambition and heartbreak drive a wedge in their lives, their strong bond of friendship is put to the ultimate test.
Shulman focuses on the little details of everyday life and the build-up to the climax is more gentle than dramatic.
This is a novel that celebrates second chances and above all, the ties of friendship.
5/10 (Review by Nilima Dey-Sarker) Sacrilege by SJ Parris is published in hardback by HarperCollins, priced £9.99. Available April 26.
England, 1584. Giordano Bruno, an Italian philosopher, cosmologist and ex-monk, is asked to solve the murder of a Canterbury magistrate in order to save the life of the woman he loves.
Though he has powerful friends and connections, Giordano must venture alone and undercover in a foreign land rife with fear of plague and invasion.
The murder, however, proves to play a minor role in a centuries-old conspiracy with much graver consequences.
Loosely based on actual events, SJ Parris excellently paints the image of a desperate time in England, when figures such as Giordano were needed to pull humanity out of the dark ages using scientific, forward-thinking principals.
Being the third book in the series, it doesn't work as a standalone novel, as it leaves you wanting more of the charming 'detective' and his misadventures throughout Europe, which I'm sure we'll get.
7/10 (Review by Wayne Walls)