Book review: Beneath The Earth

AT least with short stories, if one doesn’t wow you, there’s always hope the next one might.

Dark And Surprising Stories

John Boyne

Doubleday, €15.99; ebook, €11.99

This collection from The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas author, John Boyne, follows that pattern.

However, instead of hoping the tales improve, you just find yourself urging Boyne to unearth a sliver of joy in the darkness he seems so set on imagining.

Abuse, grief, murder, prostitution, online shaming, jealousy, punishment and psychopathic tendencies all get cleverly explored — ‘Boy’, ‘19’ and the title story are particularly chilling — through lively writing that exposes the gloomy, fractured and seamier sides of Irish society.

In fact, the collection spills over with impressive storytelling, to the extent that some plot points create nasty scars on the inside of your brain.

But, in the end, it leaves you feeling rather hopeless.


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