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Saturday, 18 October 2014

‘Relatively Strange’ by Marilyn Messik

Published by Matador,
December 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-7830-6191-4

Stella has always had strange powers: the ability to read thoughts, to fly, to move objects at a distance... to kill.  She’s tried to lead a normal life, but others out there are actively looking for people like her ...

Relatively strange indeed; I spent the first few chapters of this brilliant novel wondering if it really was a crime book, since it seemed to be a very funny description of Stella’s mad relatives – then I got swept up in the story, and after I’d finished I couldn’t quite see what else it could be.  If you can imagine a John Wyndham character strayed into a McDermid Kate Brannigan novel, that might give you an idea of this quirky book.  Stella has a sparky teenage voice, and her powers are made entirely plausible by the way they’re filtered through her comments about them (and her parents’ deliberately calmed reactions), so that when we meet the wonderful Peacock sisters and their exotic friend Glory later in the book, our disbelief has been suspended.  Dr Dreck is a chillingly plausible villain, and once the real action stuff begins – the rescue of children he has used to experiment on - you don’t want to put the book down.  There’s quiet social comment here too, about the way the Government closes its eyes to how research is done, so long as the results are in its interest.  My only gripe was that Messik needed a better editor to sort out her odd comma-use and speech paragraphing – at times you had to re-read to get the sense.

An unusual and compelling novel.  If you want to try something a bit different, I’d really recommend this.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Marilyn Messik was a regular feature and fiction writer for national magazines when her children were small. She set up her first business, selling toys, books and party goods from home, before opening first one shop then another. When she sold the shops, she moved into the world of travel, focusing on accommodation in New England, USA. Her advisory, planning and booking service flourished and she concurrently launched a publishing company, producing an annual, full-colour accommodation guide. In 2007 she set up a copywriting consultancy, Create Communication to help businesses shape their messages to optimum effect at the same time as debunking marketing myths and mistakes that can prove devastatingly expensive to companies of any size. She's the author of the Little Black Business Book series - 'Ccommon sense stuff,' she says, 'Written because the crock at the end of the rainbow isn't always packed with gold!' She divides her time now between writing website texts; press releases; speeches; advising on business strategies and working (she calls it busy-knickering) on book publishing projects both fact and fiction.
She's been married to her very patient husband for more years than he deserves and they have two children, five grandchildren and, somewhat to their surprise, several grand-dogs.
Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Marsali,

    Just wanted to say thank you so much for your lovely review of Relatively Strange - you've very much made my day. And thank you also for the comments re commas - with which I've always had a somewhat uneasy and contentious relationship. I promise to take note and make improvements for the next book. Once again, many thanks indeed. Best wishes, Marilyn