What I Read in August

During August, I was in a certified reading slump. I couldn’t find anything that I wanted to pick up so I decided to turn to some comforting and fun short reads, in the form of zines and comics, until I got my hands on something that brought me back out of the slump (and when I did, it did so with a bang!).

So, here’s what I read in August!

Rusalka by Pigeon

As soon as I learned about Rusalka, it was a no-brainer decision to back the Kickstarter campaign to help bring it to life. Rusalka is a mysterious water demon of Slavic mythology and Pigeon has created a stunning comic and prologue for a larger story in these pages. The colours used throughout are so dreamy and ethereal. I loved reading such a beautiful folklore comic and I’m excited to see what comes next!

Potluck Zine: Feast, Winter’s Traditions and Back to Basics

If you follow me on Twitter then you’ll know that I haven’t stopped talking about Potluck Zine all month. I am now a fully-fledged fan, which didn’t take long at all. I got about four pages into the Feast edition and could cry with how perfect it was. I love food writing and it’s completely what I was hoping the zine would be when I pre-ordered it.

Potluck Zine tells stories of cooking, eating and sharing food through poetry, essays, stories, art, recipes and more. It’s so beautifully designed and filled with gorgeous, evocative writing. Each edition has been an absolute treat to read (and something I’m going to return to time and time again). Potluck also pay their writers and donate money to The Trussell Trust so it’s win-win. I whole-heartedly recommend picking up a copy (or all of them, if you’re like me).

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr by Ram V and Filipe Andrade

I’m always on the hunt for a new graphic novel series to get into but I rather annoyingly chose one that’s quite difficult to get hard copies of. Volume 1 is due out around February 2022 but I didn’t want to wait that long so I went searching on eBay and came across this downright stunning foiled version of Issue 1.

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr tells the story of what happens when Death is fired from her job and sent to live out the rest of her mortal days as Laila Starr in Mumbai. I was so intrigued by the premise and the beautiful art with its sunset and pastel palette, I just had to give it a go. I’m excited to see where the story goes, but I think I’ll have to wait for Volume 1 to come out because trying to get my hands on Issues 2 and 3 is proving very tricky!

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

This was the perfect book to get me out of my reading slump. I loved the writing and the story was so gripping that I just didn’t want to put it down.

The Other Black Girl follows twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers. She’s fed up of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books and so, when Hazel starts working in the office, she hopes it will be the start of a great working relationship and, perhaps, a friendship. However, when Nella starts finding notes on her desk telling her to leave Wagner, she begins to spiral and things take a very unexpected turn.

I really enjoyed the setting of the publishing house as I haven’t read something like that before, and the main characters felt very real to me. I was really invested in the story and how it would play out (even though I unfortunately had a key element spoiled for me by a review, but that didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book at all).

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

This is such a weird little book. I was immediately intrigued by the premise of the story, and yes I specifically chose to order the hardback version because look at it! That cover is so gorgeous and gives me Annihilation (by Jeff VanderMeer) vibes which I am always here for.

Universal Harvester appears, at the outset, to be heading into the realm of thriller/horror, and whilst certain elements definitely had me curling my toes and there’s a level of dread and anticipation throughout the book, it’s a much quieter novel of loss, landscapes and life.

The novel starts with a store worker at a video shop in Nevada. It’s a quiet, simple life until customers start returning tapes saying that there’s clips of other films spliced onto the videos. So, he watches them to see what’s going on and finds disturbing footage of people in a barn. A barn that looks a lot like the one just outside of town. What unravels is a story that you probably didn’t see coming.

I’m torn with this book because part of me wishes that it’d held onto the horror threads just a little tighter, to build on the foreboding atmosphere, but I also found the writing absolutely stunning and so evocative. The way John captures emotions is exasperatingly good.

After the first part of the story, it feels like it meanders quite a lot from what it started out as and never lands on a point where you can say exactly what this book is. However, that being said, I did enjoy it. I just wish it had been a little more tied to the original premise. I love quiet horror books, and this just about had enough of that to keep me interested. Paired with the fantastic writing, I’m glad I read it. I just don’t think it will be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you go in with certain expectations of the plot.

What was your favourite read of August?

Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear about it!

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