Book review – Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful by Deborah Kay Davies

grace-tamar-and-laszlo-the-beautiful coverRediscovering the darkly poetic wilderness of Deborah Kay Davies’ writing in Reasons She Goes to the Woods drew me to reread the book that first brought her to my attention, Grace, Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful.

This sharply envisioned series of interlinked fables is less about loyalty and sweetness of siblings than the darkness of this enforced friendship, focusing on the venom that bubbles between two sisters.

It’s no surprise that the book won the 2009 Wales Book of the Year award. Scenes are vividly painted, sometimes almost too brightly to look at directly, and as readers we race along with the narrative, terrified and charmed at time, but most often disturbed to the core.

Deborah is acutely observant, using colours, sounds and unexpected imagery to depict the oddities and frailty of human emotion. And as you get deeper into the collection, the two sisters get older, alter and present different sides of their personalities. Continue reading

Book review – Reasons She Goes To The Woods by Deborah Kay Davies

Reasons She Goes To The WoodsShared in vibrant, powerful single-page snapshots, Reasons She Goes to the Woods is the story of Pearl, a girl with a curiosity about life, nature and the possibilities of her own self that is both savage and familiar.

The brevity of each missive gives it a startling potency, as each compact and perfectly precise little tale builds up the atmosphere of a childhood riddled with darkness and wonderment. Pearl is a formidable character, unflinching in her examination of the world. Becoming her friend is something of a trial by fire as she strives for dominance over each child who comes into her life, not least her baby brother, The Blob.

Pearl is a succinct reminder of the wilderness we explore of childhood. She seems to feel no fear, a factor that’s clearly part of her hold over others, as we encounter her unconscious allure as much through their responses to her, than through the actions she chooses to take.

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