In January I reviewed 6 books, plus I deal-hunted the Kindle book deals for January. (In related news, it's been a rough month - but I do have a lot of great books to review coming up!)
If you're going to read one book I reviewed this month, make it _No Name_, by Wilkie Collins.
Here's an excerpt from my review:
I read No Name a couple of years ago when I decided to read Collins’ entire oeuvre, and it was one of my favorites even then. On a re-read, it only gets better. The book follows Magdalen Vanstone, who suddenly becomes a nameless bastard thanks to an obscure quirk of English law and some poorly timed coincidences. Collins loved to explore these kinds of situations, both because of their potential for melodrama, and because he wanted to expose injustice. Magdalen, too, can’t let the injustice she has suffered pass, and you can tell how much Collins loves her for it. At the same time, she tackles the problem using a variety of socially unacceptable and borderline illegal tactics – totally sensible for the character, but Collins uses it as a chance to frame her choices as a series of internal moral battles that Magdalen perpetually loses. He valorizes her mature, patient, resigned sister Norah, but you know that if Collins were in the same situation, he wouldn’t take it lying down. I think that tension is what makes the novel so good. If he were 100% on the side of propriety, it would come across as preachy and moralistic, no matter how taut the suspense scenes or how clever the plotting. Collins’ own ambiguity, though, comes through in the work, and makes it an emotionally and narratively suspenseful read.
You can find the full review, along with all my book reviews since 2012, collected here: