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Book Review

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Music and Malice in Hurricane Town


Author: Alex Bell
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
379 pages
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 84715 960 1
Publication Date: 04 April 2019

Jude Lomax lives for her music. Scraping by, offering individual recitations or working in a local band in the Baton Noir. She lives an unremarkable life in a remarkable town. Baton Noir and the surrounding areas are given over to all manner of occult creatures and magic is a part of daily life. When she is offered a gig at the funeral of the cajou queen, Ivory Monette, she thinks little of it, but when the band arrive Jude is possessed by the vengeful spirit of the dead woman...

Music and Malice in Hurricane Town (2019. 379 pages) is the new novel by Alex Bell, who has previously published the most excellent Frozen Charlotte and Charlotte Says.

Having read, and been impressed by her previous work, I was not sure how I felt about this novel.

Although it is aimed at the YA market, the writing retains the high quality found in her previous novels, however the inventiveness which made the ‘Charlotte’ series so interesting appears to be lacking.

I am not saying that the book is bad or the story unreadable. I am saying that this is a fairly traditional hero’s journey story, the one, in which a youth is destined for greater things. It may be that I am being unfair, or that my expectations were too high, but this seems like a retrograde step for the author.

Jude is an engaging character and the dynamic between her and her father hints at some dark family secret which has caused a rift between the two, what it is forms an important part of the narrative.

The city is divided between those magical creatures, witches, vampires who form the higher echelons of society, with humanity relegated to being ‘Scraps’. At the beginning of the story Judd is a scrap, but does have more than a passing acquaintance with some of the higher echelons of society because of her musical abilities.

Her possession by the murdered Monette kick starts the plot which delves into the darkest recesses of the city. Monette can only stay in Jude for so long without causing irreparable damage, so this adds a good deal of pace to the book.

The problem is that when you pull back the various relationships and setting, this is a very traditional tale in a market already over saturated with similar stories. So, overall, it’s not bad, but not a patch on her earlier work.


Charles Packer

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