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The Fantastic Book of Everybody's Secrets is a collection of brilliantly written short stories by talented Crime/Thriller writer Sophie Hannah. I had read two of Hannah's novels and thoroughly enjoyed them and decided to purchase this collection for further reading. Believe me- if you've enjoyed a Sophie Hannah novel then you will love her short stories.
Each story contains the elements that give her novels such a distinctive style and class- intensely wrought characters, troubled relationships and the twisted inner workings of the human psyche. Part dark comedy, part horrific tragedy, you never quite know where Hannah is taking you, but you love each part of the journey.
The collection of stories starts with "The Octopus Nest" a witty tale of a stalking so alternative that it had a group of my jaded sixth form students drawing a collective breath in shock at the twist in the end (I won't give it away, but it is a literary rival to The Sixth Sense).This is followed up by a series of equally shocking and disturbing stories which make you doubt the sanity of those around you- what drives a woman to wish harm upon a man's children? Who would tolerate a friendship on those terms?
In my opinion, Hannah's brilliance- and she is brilliant- lies in her ability to create outrageous characters and scenarios which are nonetheless compelling and believable. This may seem oxymoronic but read the stories and you will see what I mean. If you've ever suspected something was a little too fishy about your neighbour, or fancied revenge on your ex-lover but worried about things getting out of hand then this is a book for you.
The book is for adults, but I would recommend it to anyone over the age of 16 who is able to cope with a healthy dose of madness, cynicism, sex and violence. The book is dark, shocking and sexy and would make an ideal gift for a Sophie Hannah fan, or someone who enjoys thriller films but would like to read more often.
I can't sing the praises of the book enough in terms of style and psychoanalytical sincerity. I would also add that this is the perfect book for a literature lover, each story is about 15 pages long- so perfect to read on your commute into work, while the kids are in bed, basically in your precious me time and you won't have to worry about putting the text down and losing the thread of the narrative or feel of the story.
It made a great present for my sister's birthday.
If I did have to make a criticism of this book, and I'm reluctant to because it is sheer brilliance pulped and printed, it would be that occasionally some of the characters behave or thing in a manner so outrageous that it alienates the reader- I can empathise with mad people, but get too close to this mad bunch and you're walking down a dangerous path... you have been warned.