I was reminded of The Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan as I read We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed by Fire by Jules Grant, as she has a similar ability to authentically capture the voice of those caught up in a culture of drugs and violence.
Donna is the lesbian leader of the all-female Bronte Close Gang in Manchester, and Carla, single parent of Aurora and part-time MC, is her best friend and second-in-command.
The reader is thrown straight into the action from the start as Donna describes everything she sees, hears and feels in blunt brutal terms. She is aggressively sexual, taking what she wants when she wants it, mainly because she can’t have the love that she truly desires.
The Bronte Street Gang has organised a unique operation that works well for them in a male dominated world. However, should a male gang member make the mistake of entering their territory without permission Carla soon teaches them a lesson they will never forget, as she has a violent streak that leans towards maximum humiliation of her victims. As long as each gang respects their mutual boundaries they generally rub along but beneath the surface resentments are bubbling, and when Carla is suddenly gunned down everything changes.
The novel alternates between the present to the past, where the complex reasons for Donna’s attitude to life are revealed and you begin to appreciate that this young woman has never really had a chance in life. Reasons that go a long way towards explaining why Donna is determined to avenge Carla’s murder and break the behavioural pattern that has haunted her life in order to save her god-daughter, Aurora, from the same fate, no matter what it costs her personally.
We also see the story unfold from Aurora’s perspective, a street-wise child who has learned how to pipe up and when to shut up due to what she has witnessed so far in her short complicated life.
The voice created for Donna is powerful, authentic and full of the rage that comes from profound grief, it leaps off the page. There is a core of truth in her edgy expressive descriptions of emotional suffering within the grim gang culture and what it takes to survive. Honest, heart-breaking and violently raw Donna’s story is not one that will be easily forgotten, and nor should it be.
Published by Myriad Editions. With thanks to the publisher for the review copy.
If you like the sound of this novel you may like the sound of another two books by Myriad Editions.
Men Like Air by Tom Connolly
Due to be published on 22 September 2016
It is April in Manhattan and the destinies of four very different men are about to collide. Nineteen-year-old Finn has just arrived in the city with his irrepressible and volatile girlfriend, Dilly, determined to even the score with his older brother Jack for abandoning him in the UK in the aftermath of their parents’ deaths. Across town, successful gallery owner Leo Emerson is haunted by loneliness, unsettled by the contrast between his life and that of his brother-in-law and oldest friend William, who is enviably contented in his faith and his marriage.
When Finn wanders into Leo’s gallery, a series of unexpected and interconnected events unfold, changing the lives of all four men, for better or worse. Leo and William’s settled existences are overturned by events outside of their control, while Jack and Finn’s complex relationship reaches its long overdue showdown.
Beautifully orchestrated and richly comic, Men Like Air explores the romance and solitude of cosmopolitan life, the transformative power of art, and the impact we have on one another’s lives – and what happens when the ties that bind us are tested or broken. It is an intense and uplifting story of growth and renewal, mapping the complex workings of the human heart across the streets of New York City.
Tom Connolly is also the author of The Spider Truces.
Noon in Paris, Eight in Chicago by Douglas Cowie
Chicago, 1947: on a freezing February night, France’s feminist icon Simone de Beauvoir calls up radical resident novelist Nelson Algren, asking him to show her around. After a whirlwind tour of dive bars, cabarets and the police lockup, the pair return to his apartment on Wabansia Avenue. Here, a passion is sparked that will last for the next two decades.
Their relationship intensifies during intoxicating months spent together in Paris and Chicago. But in between are long, anguished periods apart filled with competing desires – lovers old and new, writing, politics, gambling – which ultimately expose the fragility of their unconventional ‘marriage’ and put their devotion to the test.
Published by Myriad in May 2016.
All the books are available to order direct from the Myriad Editions website.