My enormous thanks to Emma Petfield at Hodder for a surprise ‘day’ proof copy of The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell.
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night will be published by Two Roads Books, an imprint of Hodder and Stoughton, on 2nd November 2017 and is available for pre-order here.
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night
‘These days, you can find anything you need at the click of a button.
That’s why I bought her heart online.’
Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows.
A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island.
A boy is worried his sister has two souls.
A couple are rewriting the history of the world.
And mermaids are on display at the local aquarium.
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a collection of twelve haunting stories; modern fairy tales brimming with magic, outsiders and lost souls.
My Review of The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night
With mermaids, coffin hotels and hearts cut from animals, The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a cornucopia of outstanding short stories.
My goodness me. What a collection of stories. I couldn’t decide whether to be horrified at the same time as being mesmerised by the opening story, Animals, and from that point my free will was entirely removed and I had to read just one more until I had consumed the entire collection in one sitting. It’s stunning.
Jen Campbell has an imagination that is awe inspiring. Her writing is mythological, poetic and beautiful so that it felt like the literary equivalent of a rich Persian carpet, full of texture and allegory whilst being completely individual and fabulously crafted. There’s poetry, prose and drama between the pages of The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night.
Sometimes the writing is like a stream of consciousness with asides dropped in seemingly apropos of nothing and yet perfectly pitched so they make absolute sense. Reading this collection made me look at life philosophically and completely differently. It was akin to allowing colour into a previously black and white world and to be honest, I feel slightly off-kilter having read it. I loved the underlying themes of sexuality, identity and difference, love and death which ebb and flow throughout. There’s also a strong exploration of mothers that I wasn’t sure whether was intentional or co-incidental, but was nonetheless fascinating. Equally fascinating were the interlaced references to art, literature, religion and folklore so that Jen Campbell’s writing made me want to go skittering off to look up references and continue the magic outside the book.
I can honestly say I have never read anything quite like The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night and I loved every single word of these stories. Bravo Jen Campbell!
About Jen Campbell
Jen Campbell is an award-winning poet and short story writer. Born in the north east of England, she now lives in London, and is the author of the bestselling Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops series and The Bookshop Book. She worked as a bookseller for ten years.
Her first children’s book Franklin’s Flying Bookshop is published by Thames and Hudson.
A respected and influential book vlogger with almost 30,000 subscribers, she has won an Eric Gregory Award for poetry in 2016 and has been a judge for the Costa and Somerset Maugham awards.
She is a little bit obsessed with the darker side of fairy tales. She lives in London.