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Mini Reviews: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton and A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa, Risa Kobaya

THE CRAFTSMAN by Sharon Bolton

3.5 **** I am stuck between 3 and 4 stars for this one. The first two-thirds were really good and gripping, but then towards the end, it lost me a little, I have to say. The story was compelling, the characters well developed and the writing engaging, but there were certain aspects toward the end, when the story started to take place more in 1999 (as opposed to the part told in 1969 when Florence was a young WPC) that felt a bit too contrived, if that makes sense. Maybe it was also a hint too chilling for me. It really is very, very creepy. All in all though, a gripping novel by a talented writer. I will read more books by Sharon Bolton!

A RIVER IN DARKNESS: ONE MAN'S ESCAPE FROM NORTH KOREA by Masaji Ishikawa, Risa Kobayashi (Translation), Martin Brown (Translation)


This is a short book, but what a harrowing, thought-provoking story it tells! It is not an easy read, this man's account of life in North Korea, his escape back to Japan and the terrible losses he and his family suffered in the process. I kept feeling stunned when the author mentioned the dates - so recent! - and that people dying of starvation seems a fairly common occurrence in North Korea. he paints a bleak picture, made bearable by the fact that he felt close bonds with his family. An eye-opening and important book!