Tag Archives: joanne harris

A Pocketful of Crows

I have been a fan of Joanne Harris‘ work for a very long time, so I was very surprised when I first found out about this book by seeing its gorgeous cover in a bookshop. It’s a beautiful hardcover edition with a black dust jacket and gold detail. This was my first read of 2018 and because I have already lent it out, today’s photograph is a guest photo by my friend Annie.


“A Pocketful of Crows” by Joanne Harris is a fantasy novella about a wild girl with nut brown skin, crow wing hair and no name who runs with the deer and flies with the hawk and hunts with the vixen. However, when she meets a young human man and falls desperately in love with him, she allows herself to be tamed and named. Turning her back on her people, the Travelling Folk, she despairs when nature begins to turns its back on her and the man she sacrificed everything for is not as true as he promised.

This is truly an exquisite book. Drawing heavily on English and Scottish folklore, this book is dark and light in all the right places. The wild girl is an incredible character and although her ways are both enchanting and feral to the human reader, Harris forces us to empathise with her the entire way. I was absolutely captivated with this book and raced through the vivid prose and illustrations in a day.

Another thing I really liked was the signature complex way in which Harris depicts women. The wild girl defies the social conventions of the humans and the Travelling Folk, but is nevertheless bound by the consequences of her actions. I also enjoyed the way Harris explored the tension between fetishisation of the “exotic” and white beauty ideals.

There really isn’t much more to say about this book – it really does speak for itself. My only regret is that I didn’t realise it was coming out sooner.


Filed under Book Reviews, Fantasy, Pretty Books

Different Class

I had been looking forward to this book for a long time. Joanne Harris is one of my all-time favourite authors. Her Malbry Cycle books are a delightful and dark departure from her much more whimsical French novels, and when she announced that she was writing a third book set in the rather sinister town of Malbry, I was stoked.

“Different Class” by Joanne Harris revisits St Oswald’s Grammar School for Boys, and the Latin master Roy Straitley who in an increasingly modernised world is the school’s unlikely keystone. When a new principal is appointed, and a number of changes are introduced, Straitley finds himself reminded of some sinister events that happened decades ago. The parallels become too much of a coincidence, and Straitley finds himself making some unusual alliances to protect the school, his students and ultimately himself.


I don’t really want to give too much away, but this is Harris at her finest. Joanne Harris is a master of the literary slight of hand, and with narration swapping between Straitley and the mysterious and murderous author of an old diary, this novel is full of surprises and the perfect amount of tension. After reading her other novels in this series, I was not disappointed and devoured this book in no time at all.

Harris says herself that you don’t need to read the books in order of publication in order to enjoy them, and I think that’s probably true. However if you’re a stickler for order, I’d start with “Gentlemen and Players” then “Blueeyedboy” before finishing with “Different Class”.¬†So, if you’re in the mood for an extremely well-written thriller in an unusual setting with social issues expertly woven in throughout, I cannot recommend this book enough.


Filed under Book Reviews, General Fiction