This time round the story focuses on Antoinette, known as Antsy because she’s always moving. When we first meet her she is only five and suffers the tragic loss of her father while they are shopping. From that moment on, her life is changed.
When Antsy’s mum finds a new boyfriend, Tyler, she has a visceral reaction to him. She can’t explain why, but feels there is something very wrong with him. To begin with he claims to want to fit in with her mother’s life, but we quickly see his true colours.
The first part of the book illustrates why Antsy was right to trust her instincts. Tyler’s manipulation of the situation and the gaslighting was triggering…all too believable, and every instinct had me wanting Antsy to find a way out before it was too late. On the evening that he visits her alone in her room at night, Antsy makes the decision to leave.
A petite eight year old walking along the streets at night should be cause for concern. Antsy is alone…until she finds a door saying ‘Be Sure’. In her head, she is sure. She cannot go home, so takes the option available to her.
Inside this door is a talking magpie and a room of lost things. Antsy feels comfortable here, and is tempted by the wonderful worlds and experiences offered to her. Unfortunately, they come at a price and Antsy eventually learns the true cost to these travels.
Eventually, Antsy finds her way back and I liked the fact that she got some closure before making the decision to return to the world she felt indebted to.
I began reading this series a while ago, and really must catch up with the others. Every journey offers something different.
It’s 1591. Fifteen year old Geillis Duncan is imprisoned, several floors below Edinburgh’s High Street. Accused of being a witch, Geillis is about to be killed for the crime she has been accused of. During the course of her last night, Geillis is visited by Iris, a visitor in the shape of a crow who claims to be a woman from the future and sympathetic to Geillis.
Over the course of her last night we hear Geillis recount the story of how she came to be in prison. It is an age-old story of jealousy and persecution of something unknown/different. The story of her arrest, brutal torture and forced confession is appalling…and I felt incredibly angry reading it.
For such a slim book this packs a powerful punch. It is more powerful for the fact that hundreds of years later we see similar tales of persecution and injustice. A warning tale of the dangers of being ruled by fear, and I would love to see extracts used alongside ‘Macbeth’ to offer students another view of the supernatural and contemporary views of women in power.
In Sweet Harmony North has created a monster, a monster I initially felt some empathy for but who – ultimately – learns nothing from her situation.
A succinct yet damning indictment of our obsession with youth, physical health and the ‘quick fix’ solution. Sweet Harmony tells the story of one very normal woman living in a world where everything can be fixed…at a price.
Harmony has upgrade after upgrade to keep her body looking its best. Nothing needs to be worked at in the traditional sense and all is good, if you can pay for it. Our only clue that something is not right is that Harmony has a spot…and before we know it we see the full truth of her situation exposed.
Faced with spiralling debt we see Harmony slowly shutting down. Around her, difficult choices have to be made. The reaction to her plight when she shares it shows the casual callousness that we seem to take for granted in so many circumstances.
Until the closing stages part of me felt Harmony was a victim, and I felt sympathy of sorts for her predicament. However, the decision she makes at the end made me feel that she was rather more complicit in her demise than I’d been prepared to accept. I closed the story feeling somewhat tainted, angry that such a situation could come about but also miserable to recognise so much of the mindset prevalent in the book as being all around us now.
Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this prior to publication.