First from the Chunky Reading Pile (and others)

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My year of reading chunksters kicked off with a fantastic bang! First chunkster of 2023 is done and dusted, it was the one with the highest page count and I gave it a 5-star rating!

The Ink Black Heart has been staring at me ever since I bought it on its release day. While the page count was intimidating, there was just something about it that made me always want to reach for it and start reading. I’m thrilled I was finally able to read it and that it such a successful start to this reading challenge we’ve set for ourselves for 2023.

Both Hoarder Elizabeth and I adore this series. We both arrived somewhat late to it, but are now completely and fully on-board and have become giant Cormoran Strike fans. We share numerous texts about the Strike and Robin relationship. Indeed the lead up to The Ink Black Heart often left us in hysterics over the content and context of our text exchanges. Surely at over 1,000 pages, book #6 would see some action between Robin and Strike right?!?! We threatened to give the series up if there wasn’t.

While I won’t say there’s much inside those 1,000+ pages to satisfy our needs (sorry Elizabeth….maybe the next one?), I cannot say enough about how much I loved this instalment. I couldn’t possibly give it up. I fairly ripped through it and seriously…I finished this tome in under 15 days! Never once did I feel like I was reading a giant doorstopper or felt fatigue or annoyance at the page count.

I thought The Ink Black Heart to be clever and brilliant. Galbraith (Rowling) gave a lot for us to chew on here – incels, online harassment of women, far-right terrorist groups, white supremacists and of course the continuing (although very frustrating still) relationship between Strike and Robin. She even brings in the #MontrealMassacre and Marc Lepine. It all fits and flows effortlessly.

There was one aspect inside as well and I continuously sent text messages to Elizabeth about it. I thought it to be a very clever story arc about the creator vs the fandom. The Ink Black Heart was a cartoon created by a woman, Edie and her boyfriend at the time, Josh and could be watched on YouTube. It became a huge success for them. Then, a video game based on the characters in The Ink Black Heart is created by members in the fandom. It as well becomes a huge success but begins to take on a life of its own. Therefore, the creators of the video game feel that any future development of IBH should include them and their growing and immense hatred targeted towards Edie is swift, visceral and abusive. It is however only ever targeted at Edie.

I just felt it was a very clever narrative to include in the book – the creator vs the fandom. There is this demand, this expectation running through that it’s up to the fans to be consulted and for those fans to determine the future, the storylines, the marketing development, etc., over the creator of the original work of art. It’s subtle, but not. I just thought it brilliant how Galbraith conveys it.

Ink Black Heart image taken from internet – created by Matt Walton

Anyway, Strike and Robin must solve the mystery of the identity of Edie’s leading online tormentor and in the process solve her murder. And I loved all of it and as I was closing in on the end, there was an announcement that the 7th book in this series is coming with the title, The Running Grave. No word on when it will be released (or how huge it’s going to be!). I will be there on release day however.

Therefore, anything following The Ink Black Heart was surely going to fall short right? Indeed, the next two books I read did just that. One much shorter over the other.

Over on Litsy is a reading challenge called #NunLitQuarterly. A quarterly book club in a way, with each of the four books about nuns in some form or fashion. The first book was The Corner That Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner. A classic first published in 1948 about a 14th century convent and taking place during the time of the Black Death. It was just about the convent. The convent was the main character. The book was about the inception of the convent, the various nuns that lived in it over the years and their trials and tribulations. Coming down from a book with its hefty plot, suspense and mystery, The Corner That Held Them was much too sleepy and dry for me. I barely made my way through it before packing it in. Definitely not the right time for me to read a book that slow and quiet. (2 stars)

While I was reading The Ink Black Heart, I was also dipping into The Last Wish. This was at the request of my son and a compromise to read a book from The Witcher series over having to read The Hobbit. (He’s been on me for years to read The Hobbit.) Fantasy is truly not my genre and I honestly dreaded the thought of reading The Hobbit. I even downloaded it on Audible thinking maybe I could handle it in that format, but I just never opened it. Hence, the compromise to read The Last Wish. He promised me they were like short stories so maybe it would appeal more. And I was able to read a story here and there at the same time as the Galbraith tome. They are okay, but again, fantasy is just not my thing. I really don’t enjoy reading a great deal about “undead daughters, vengeful djinns, shrieking harpies, lovelorn vampires and despondent ghouls“. I also found the stories (they are more like linked stories) to be repetitive. Geralt is called in to rid the land of these djinns, harpies, ghouls, and creatures. No one really wants the Witcher and once he’s done his duty they bid him farewell in the hopes they never see him again. I also do not enjoy books that are heavy in dialogue as was the case within The Last Wish. No matter the genre, I do not like books that are mostly dialogue over description (he joked then I should be reading George R.R. Martin who can go on for several pages about the food his characters are eating). But I now feel I’ve fulfilled my duty in reading something that my son so very much loves (he’s a very big reader as well, just not from the same genre of books I enjoy) and I can now return to my own books. (3 stars)

I’m back to selecting books from my Chunkster pile and I’ve chosen Wayne Johnston’s The Mystery of Right and Wrong.