Title: The Beginning Of The World In The Middle Of The Night by Jen Campbell
Publisher: Two Roads Publishing
Date Published: 2nd November 2017
Genre: Short Story.
‘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.
‘I’m fascinated by storytelling, and particularly fairy tales. How humans have always tried to explain things that they can’t possibly understand with, sometimes outrageous, stories’ Jen Campbell
From the author of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops series and The Bookshop Book.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.
When I saw this book I loved the unusual name coupled with the gorgeous cover, and I thought to myself I have to read this. It turned out to be a really eclectic series of stories. Each one different, each one unique. There’s fantasy, sci-fi, even a story concerning abuse and grief. One of them is even written in script format.
The overall theme is fairy tales, some have actually been included in the stories themselves, changed slightly. One in particular I remember is a retelling of Rapunzel where she’s half human, half plant.
I especially enjoyed two of the stories. Animals, set in a world where you can buy love in the form of an animal heart (it’s a little gruesome) and Aunt Libby’s Coffin Hotel, about a young girl called Ankaa who lives with her Aunt Libby, a bit of a con artist, who sells an overnight death experience but comes face-to-face with real supernatural phenomenon.
The only thing I felt was some of the stories didn’t seem finished or there was more story to tell.
Overall not a light-hearted read but each story is poignant and thought provoking.
Jen Campbell is an award winning poet and short story writer. Her debut short story collection, ‘The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night,’ is published by Two Roads (November 2017) and her first children’s book ‘Franklin’s Flying Bookshop’ is published by Thames & Hudson (September 2017).
Jen is also the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops series, and The Bookshop Book. Her poetry pamphlet The Hungry Ghost Festival is published by The Rialto, and her collection in progress, the girl aquarium, won an Eric Gregory Award in 2016.
Jen worked as a bookseller for ten years and now runs a Youtube channel, where she talks about all things books. She is currently a judge for this year’s Somerset Maugham Award. She grew up in the north east of England and now lives in London.