Review of The Naming of Moths by Tracy Fells

Tracy Fells was the 2017 Regional Winner (Europe and Canada) for the Commondwealth Short Story Prize. Her short fiction has been widely published in print journals and online, including Granta and Brittle Star. Her debut novella-in-flash ‘Hairy on the Inside” published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2021, was shortlisted for the Saboteur Awards in 2022 and the International Rubery Book Awards.


Tracy Fells has been a first reader for the Bath Short Story Award for many years, frequently selecting stories from the entries that go to to be shortlisted or to win a prize. It’s a pleasure now to write a short review of her new short story collection, The Naming of Moths. which was published by Fly on the Wall Press late last year and is available from them or from Amazon.

In their guidelines for submission Fly on the Wall Press state:

“We prefer writing with a sprinkle of social consciousness and political engagement. This encompasses terms such as social commentary or observation, as well as more overtly political storylines. We believe, sometimes, our very existence in a certain setting is political and a story can be political simply in viewpoint.”

Tracy Fells,is a writer who, I believe, exactly fits Fly on the Wall Press’s brief. Her stories are rich with social commentary and observations on how people navigate life in (usually) the present day UK, whether they were born in this country or have travelled from elsewhere. . Continue reading

Review: ‘TASTES LIKE FEAR’ by Sarah Hilary

‘Tastes Like Fear’, the third book in the D.I. Marnie Rome series, will not disappoint fans of award-winning author Sarah Hilary or those passionate about crime fiction.

Set against the louring presence of Battersea Power Station, ‘Tastes Like Fear’ is about ‘getting under the city’s skin’:  the Garrett Estate with its brutal, concrete tower blocks, a graffitied subway  strewn with the lost and abandoned and an unfinished luxury penthouse  – all metaphors for a city in crisis. From the beginning we, as readers, are unsettled and, as the story progresses, are propelled into a world where nothing adds up and all assumptions are challenged. A fatal car crash is not as it seems. Girls running away from families, who may or may not be damaged, seek shelter and find it – with Harm. Who or what is Harm? And what is his motivation? As the story strands mesh together in a tapestry of loss, grief and terror, it is up to D.I Marnie Rome, suffering from her own personal tragedy,  to unpick the threads and make sense of it all. And only then can we breathe a sigh of relief and relax.

This is a riveting read. Sarah Hilary admits she doesn’t plot her novels before writing the first draft, yet there’s a complexity and deftness to the narrative with tension mounting as we are drawn through a labyrinth of dark spaces and dead ends. The revelations are unpredictable but not forced – completely true to the characters but we don’t see them coming. All the characters – victims, perpetrators and the police protagonists, Marnie and her sidekick D.S. Noah Jake, are drawn with skill and subtlety. We know these people – and people like them. That is what makes Sarah Hilary’s novels transcend the genre. The writing is superb: voices (and the story is told through a range of perspectives) ring true.  Description is nuanced but alive and the story pacy and completely unputdownable.

Tastes Like Fear  will be out in print on Thursday, April 7th.  Come along to the launch at Toppings, Bath to hear Sarah read and discuss her latest thriller. Tickets here . Or  you could write off the week and read the two equally compelling books preceding it: Someone Else’s Skin  winner of the Theakston’s Old Peculier 2015 Crime Novel of the Year and No Other Darkness , shortlisted for Best Paperback Original in the Barry Awards

Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarah_hilary