The Stranger Times

Brilliant. Laugh out loud funny, fantastic characters. My favourite book of 2020.

Book title

The Stranger Times

Author

C. K. McDonnell

Standalone or series?

First in a planned series

First time reading this author?

Yes

Why I picked this

As a former journalist stories about newspapers are interesting to me. Combine that with the weird and wonderful stories The Stranger Times focusses on and this appealed.

What it’s about

The Stranger Times reports on the weird and wonderful things that people believe in. Not that they necessarily believe these stories themselves, as editor Vincent Banecroft is at pains to point out. New assistant editor Hannah Willis’s first week turns that theory on its head however, as the editorial team quickly realise that the world is even weirder than they thought.

Review copy or purchase

Accessed for free in advance of publication via Pigeonhole and encouraged to give an honest review. Loved it so much I have since purchased to re-read.

Review

I absolutely loved this book. It is brilliantly funny with fantastic characters and an engaging plot. Highly recommended.

I had the opportunity to read this pre-publication via Pigeonhole, but I know it’s going to be one I return to again and again so have pre-ordered a physical copy.

The characters and the humour are what really make this book stand out. Banecroft the editor used to be the pride of mainstream media. He’s ended up at The Stranger Times as his life hit rock bottom. He’s now an alcoholic who sleeps in his office and who has to find increasingly more creative alternatives to swearing, as his office manager has limited him to three expletives a day.

The office manager if Grace, a kindly woman who mothers the staff, but takes no nonsense. The place really would fall apart if she wasn’t there. Grace took in grumpy teenage runaway Stella who manages to keep the office’s IT running in between monosyllabic moans about the editor and the newspaper.

Ox and Reggie are the features team. Ox covers UFO and conspiracy theories, while Reggie takes on the ghost stories. Their interactions are brilliant, and it’s the first meeting with these two characters in the early chapters of this book that let me know it was going to be something special.

Hannah is the new girl. She’s fresh from a marriage with her repeatedly unfaithful husband. Previously a kept woman she has no real job experience, so the job ad for The Stranger Times which only asks for a decent grasp of the English language, is appealing to her. She quickly proves that she’s up to the challenge, maintaining her wits under the perpetual grumpiness of Banecroft.

If you enjoy the humour of Terry Pratchett and Christopher Brookmyre’s writing you’ll love this. I think it’s absolutely brilliant.

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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