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March 12, 2024 March 2024, Regular Features No Comments

By Brenda Channer – Martinborough Bookshop

“Whether Violent or Natural” by Natasha Calder

This debut novel was published late last year from a young author known for her short fiction. It is narrated by the 20-something protagonist Kit, who is living on an island with a slightly older male Crevan, after the human population of the world has been decimated by plastic eating bacteria which has been loosed upon the environment.

It’s a fascinating premise – plastic eating bacteria, hailed as the solution to the world’s landfill and ocean pollution problems becomes uncontained and subsequently consumes all plastic – all industries are effectively prevented from functioning. 

Surgery cannot be performed, cars cannot be driven, material cannot be woven, food cannot be stored. These bacteria also render anti-biotics useless, so diseases once eradicated come back with a vengeance. People died of hunger and disease in their millions.

And then there are Kit and Crevan, living on an island with a crumbling castle above ground and an amazingly well-equipped survival bunker underground, all alone until one night a half dead woman washes up. The fine balance the two of them had achieved living in splendid isolation is thrown into free fall by this unidentified woman and things take a darker turn.

As Kit narrates the events after the woman is rescued by Crevan, the story jumps back and forth in time and some of the questions the reader has started to ask are slowly answered.

Who is Kit? How did she get to the island? Where are her family? Who built the bunker?

The tension is almost palpable and when it dawns on you that Kit is not the most reliable of narrators it gets even more interesting.

This is dark and original literary fiction that is easy to read but stays with you for a long time

afterwards. Was I still left with questions at the end? Yes. Was the story satisfying, well written and worth a read,?

Yes, yes and yes! Available at your local bookshop.

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