Book Bites: February 3

Nothing to read? Our reviewers recommend these three literary gems!

08 February 2019 - 14:51 By Sunday Times Books

Hazards of Time Travel ****
Joyce Carol Oates, HarperCollins, R310

Author extraordinaire Joyce Carol Oates has over 40 novels to her name and is known for her tales of creepy horror, but Hazards of Time Travel takes it to another level. It’s dark. Very dark. Set 20 years from now, the world’s on edge, there’s no freedom. And if you dare rebel, you’ll be deleted. Adriane Strohl is about to face the consequences of speaking her mind when she finds herself transported back in time. But without her identity. It is 1959 and she has to find a whole new her. Carol Oates creates many eerie parallels between these alternative universes and real life and the message is clear: time is precious and there is only now. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

Leave No Trace ****
Mindy Mejia, Quercus, R270

This book has nothing to do with the recent indie movie of the same name, although both involve forests and both are dark with loss but tempered by the fragile comfort of human connections. Mindy Mejia’s third novel explores the Boundary Waters, a protected wilderness area overlapping Canada and the US; a place of wild and extreme beauty where people can and do disappear. Mejia also explores the troubled life of Maya – whose mother abandoned her as a child and who now works as a speech therapist at a psychiatric facility – and the even stranger world of Lucas, restrained in this clinic after 10 years in the forest, who needs Maya’s help to return and save his father. Sue de Groot @deGrootS1

The Colour of Lies *****
Lezanne Clannachan, Orion Books, R270

This is the kind of book that makes hours disappear. Multi-layered, compelling and just confusing enough that you can never tell who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. The narrator, Anna, is blessed with the gift of synesthesia: a neurological condition that allows her to see emotions as colours. She learns how to read people’s facial expressions, body language, tone - and colour. It’s an intriguing idea that could easily have turned repetitive or been used as an author’s trick, but Clannachan weaves it so seamlessly into the story that it seems perfectly natural to describe someone with a halo of orange when they’re lying. Bridget McNulty @bridgetmcnulty