Book Talk: Heartstopper & The Santa Klaus Murder

Updated: Jun 28, 2020

It's mid January and I'm remembering to read for and write about the Indie Challenge. Hooray for me! Part of that is actually remembering to review the books I read, which has been a struggle for me in recent months but no longer!

The first book I read this year, which I started and finished on New Years' Day, was Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman. This is a self-published, crowdfunded graphic novel featuring characters from Alice Oseman's fantastic first novel, Solitaire.

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn't been too great, but at least he's not being bullied anymore, and he's sort of got a boyfriend, even if he's kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He's heard a little about Charlie - the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months - but he's never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn't think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner...

The most annoying thing about Heartstopper is that it's volume 1, and volume 2 isn't out yet. Yes, I know it's a web comic and I could go read it online to see what happens (and also it's a prequel to Solitaire technically, so I kind of already know what happens...) but having started it in book form I kind of want to continue it that way too. It was a great book to start my year and my challenge with because the art is great, and the words are minimal. I already loved both Charlie and Nick (but especially Charlie) from reading Solitaire (which in case you haven't guessed, I really recommend despite it not being indie) and I really, really enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time with them and read about their backstory. I absolutely love it when authors add more to stories we already know, especially when it's for characters I feel real fondness for, like Charlie and Nick. Heartstopper is brilliantly drawn and very sweet - sometimes bittersweet - and it challenges what we know about others and even about ourselves. Also it's a gorgeous love story, and what's not to love about that?

Squares filled: a crowdfunded book, Marginalised people, LGBTQIA, Kids/YA

In total juxtaposition to that I also read my first ever British Library Crime Classic this month, the very festively named The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay. I'm not a fan of gory crime type books, but I do really love a good detective novel. This is one of the 'lots of people together in a house, someone gets murdered' style books that reminds me a lot of many of Agatha Christie's Poirot stories.

A classic country-house murder mystery, 'The Santa Klaus Murder' begins with Aunt Mildred declaring that no good could come of the Melbury family Christmas gathering at their country residence Flaxmere. So when Sir Osmond Melbury, the family patriarch, is discovered — by a guest dressed as Santa Klaus —with a bullet in his head on Christmas Day, the festivities are plunged into chaos. Nearly every member of the party stands to reap some sort of benefit from Sir Osmond’s death, but Santa Klaus, the one person who seems to have every opportunity to fire the shot, has no apparent motive.

I read The Santa Klaus Murder over the Christmas holiday and it made lovely bedtime reading. Although not as cleverly put together as an Agatha Christie mystery (there's a reason she's called the Queen of Crime after all!) it was full of twists, misdirections and red herrings and I only worked out whodunnit about a chapter or so before the big reveal. The family dynamics were very believable, as were the characters and I'll definitely be searching out more from this publisher.

If it sounds good to you, we have a copy of The Santa Klaus Murder over in our bookshop at the moment!

Squares filled: Genre fiction (crime), a New to You Publisher

Here's how my bingo card currently looks. Not bad for less than a month in! I do seem to be reading extremely haphazardly though! I'm reading A Burglary by Amy Dillwyn now which counts for A Women's Press and A press over 20 years old, so at least I'll be working along the same lines...

How are you doing so far? Let us know in the comments & don't forget to use #IndieChallenge on social media!


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