Here are some of the reviews of my new book, HOWUL
Reviewed April 4 2021 by Ben East
“David Shannon – Bernardine Evaristo’s husband – has taken more than a decade to write Howul and one suspects most of that time was spent honing the idiosyncratic prose; in this post-apocalyptic future, the description of the titular hero runs: “Hims face is also most grumpscrut… hims thinkings is sweet and kind.” It’s first a barrier and then a blessing; Howul is a naive beacon of light and healing in a brutal world, his entire outlook on life – that words and books are weapons – making this adventurous novel cohere into something more profound.”
The book has it’s own ‘language’, which I thought might make it difficult to read, but it’s actually very easy to follow. It’s basically a simplified version of English, and it’s easy to imagine that’s exactly how our language evolves when knowledge is lost and communities are isolated. Howul is also a great character – despite the simple life he has to live, he comes across as both cunning and empathetic throughout.
As the story progresses, we get a lot of answers but some question marks deliberately still remain about the world that Howul is living in. I think this leaves the possibility open for further books set in this world, which would be great to see!”
April 28, 2021 Vanessa rated it ****
“Howul is to literature as Stravinsky is to Bach.
So great to read something so refreshingly creative and new!”
Feb 18, 2021 Michael rated it *****
“This is a wonderful book. It is written in a pidgin English, which takes time to get used to, but creates a beautiful rhythm. It is set in a scary dystopian society where people are desperate and just try to survive in a post disaster world. Howul is a great character who makes a desperate journey through the unknown. He’s not a hero and makes mistakes along the way but he is a decent man forced to do unpleasant things. It’s a book about power, knowledge and humanity but also about who gets to dob who and what is good to eat. Read this book.”
Feb 04, 2021 Charlie rated it *****
“Howul is not a good person. He is a bad father and a bad healer and would make a terrible leader. No one would have him. He can’t even catch rats for the pot, he is that useless. Knowing that about him, why is he the one who is taught to read? Taught how to right about his life. Given the books to write it down in. Such a dangerous thing in the hands of someone like Howul. He could go a long way with something like that.
I enjoyed this book. I’m not sure if I enjoyed it because of or despite the somewhat strange language it is written in. It is quirky and vibrant and full of life. What more could you possibly want from a book?”
Jan 19, 2021 Pogo Dragon rated it *****
“This is one of those books that slowly drags you into its world. It’s familiar enough that you recognise it, and so very very different that you don’t quite know which landmarks to trust.
It isn’t an easy or a comfortable read, but for me it is all the better for that. Having to work at it to get at the good stuff made it so much more satisfying.
It is also one of those rare reading treats that had me thinking, as I finished the last page, “Oh, right, I missed that, I need to go back and re-read it”. Which I’m pretty sure I will do quite soon.”
Vanessa Davies 5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable indeed!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 August 2021
“I loved every minute of this. Unexpected and clever. Heartwarming and real. I highly recommend this book to anyone curious about how society might be different. “
J L James 5.0 out of 5 stars Started reading and found it very difficult to stop!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 March 2021
“I bought this for the Kindle because of a weekend article with David Shannon and Bernardine Evaristo talking about it. I didn’t know what to expect. I found it fascinating – a distopian world, a new language, a savagery mixed with sweetness, a journey (Harold Fry-like in terms of discovery and self discovery, but this is no meditative trudge), life as we could almost envisage it …. Hard to stop reading and the language draws you in. Hims strange and wonderful, hims a different book, not a dangerous book. Read it – I’m very glad I did.”
mellymango 5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 2 February 2021 Verified
“Just stayed up late to finish this book. Absolutely LOVED it and sad that I’ve finished it. For a start it was hilarious and many times I laughed out loud. Not just a giggle mind you, I’m talking spit my tea out, laughing so hard that my stomach hurt and my eyes watered. It was also very moving, gripping, beautiful, batshit-crazy and profound. The language was so clever: sometimes very blunt and crude and then suddenly surprising, evocative and lyrical with all sorts of veiled cultural references that caught me by surprise. Strange and eclectic yet all fitting together perfectly. The story was a page-turner too. Highly recommended. It would make a great (and strange) film.”
Reviewed 14 March 2021
“Honoured to be closing the tour for this unusual and very original book. I was keen to read and review this story, partly because I love books and words so much, but also because it’s such an intriguing premise. This is a really gripping story, with the eponymous main character Howul for whom words are everything.
They won’t all be words you are familiar with.
There is a glossary at the end of the story, turning Howlish into English (although some of the words are obvious, there are some completely new words) – I would advise readers to start there and then go back to the opening paragraphs.
This is such a great book. I was completely immersed. David Shannon is a talented writer and this book exceeded my expectations. Highly recommended. The cover is so basic and simple but the story within is anything but.”
Reviewed 11 March 2021
“I wasn’t expecting this book to be anything like it is! I mean that in a good way. I found the writing style brilliant and hilarious! So many laugh out loud moments for me. The language used was surprising, shocking and clever. Howul’s descriptions of things and the nicknames he gave other characters in the story had me rolling around and crying with laughter.
I loved that the ending wasn’t predictable. As well as the humour, the serious emotions, such as his heartbreak, anger and disillusionment of Howul were clearly portrayed. I really felt for him.
A unique book that I’d recommend to anyone who fancies reading something different and amusing!”
Reviewed 8 March 2021
“I didn’t know what to expect from this book and it’s certainly different to any other book I’ve read. I love the simplicity of the cover. I’m not sure what genre to ascribe it to, maybe one all of it’s own but it was quirky and quite extraordinary and I really enjoyed it. Once you get used to the language it gets easier to read and you get immersed into Howul’s life. It has both laugh out loud and sad moments as well as bits that are violent and a bit shocking. Howul comes across as very straightforward and matter of fact in his thoughts and feelings, he says what he sees and some of that can be very funny. I loved some of the language with words such as bumblebees, flutterbys, herbishrubs and snotnoses and loved the way you could work out what the words meant because they were either spelt how they sounded or described what they referred to. It is a very clever and thought provoking book.”