Sparked by Words

This is not about the war between lovers of dogs or cats. It’s about Annika Perry, a talented writer who works like a cat.

A dog is all blubbery love smeared across your cheeks, a loyal paladin stationed stalwart by your side. Tongue lollygagging out of its jaw, tail flailing around like a pig in a muddy pit – you’re gonna be drowning in slobbery canine love in about five seconds. Or maybe a fangy foreign agent hired to attack: a German shepherd or English pit bull. Teeth bared and muzzle lowered –you better run. You always know where you stand with Rover.

But a cat – you can’t tell anything by looking at a cat. There it sits on the windowsill, licking its paw, indifferent to all things human – the tasty treats, the dangling mouse toy, the arms ready to cuddle it. Suddenly it pounces, its claws deep in your bicep leaving parallel bloody tracks or a snip of your skin flapping loosely as it samples your nose. And then sashays back to the windowsill to await its next victim. Go ahead, stick around, it could be you again, if you dare to get close enough. Silly you, thinking Puss loves ya.

I mention this because Annika Perry writes like a cat. There she sits at the window, chewing on the end of her pencil, watching the world go by. And if you are anywhere near her line of sight, she’s probably watching you. Observing you and all your little peccadilloes. Like the way you hold a letter that might seal your future, or how you sip wine while your mind is loitering elsewhere. How the March wind drives rain upwards, making an umbrella useless. How a bouquet of vibrant flowers devastates you with memories and also lights up your world. You didn’t know she was looking that closely, did you? That’s a cat for you – indifferent but all knowing.

At first glance, The Storyteller Speaks appears to be gentle family fare, tales written by a sweet faced, blue eyed lady who spends her time between Great Britain and Sweden, bearing candles and roses, taking photos, penning notes. It’s how she entices you to her book. I’ve read The Storyteller Speaks twice, the first time in order of presentation, the second in a meandering stroll through her poems and short stories.

If I attempt to review each of the twenty-one entries, I’ll over-report and do the book no justice. So I’m going to focus on a few tales that blew me away, as if driven by a sirocco out of the Sahara. This is important to remember, because like a cat, Perry sneaks up on you to lunge for your emotional jugular while you’re unaware she’s even in the room. She’s a keen observer of people, absorbing cultural details and body language.

Sofia! is about a little girl and her stuffed toy whose uncle takes her to visit the local zoo. It’s told through eyewitness accounts of zoo visitors and officials who answer Inspector Nunn’s questions.  Apparently the child, Sofia, has been kidnapped or gotten lost as the focus of each interrogation appears to be what has happened to the child. Perry escalates suspense as we wait to find out if Sofia is safe or remains lost or even perhaps is dead, our suspicion and concern for the little girl mounting with each witness. The final person interviewed is Marija, Sofia’s mother, to whom Nunn relates the awful conclusion of the story. A shred of flesh hangs from Perry’s claws.

At a Loose End is a sweet story, about the time of life when you want to make significant changes to accommodate a different economic reality and new opportunities. Some decisions need only a small alteration, an act not possible a few years earlier. But family wedges into the narrow spaces and – I won’t ruin the story for you. But I bet you’ll agree. It’s a rather sweet story, proving sometimes the cat just wants to sun herself on the sill.

Lasting Sanctuary is a shorter story but one that packs a twist worthy of Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. To encompass so much in a wisp of a tale, just a brief iteration of this cat’s nine lives, is brilliant.

My favorite story is The Whiteout Years, and I’ve read it four times. Out of the gate, it captivated me with passages as lyrical as this one when Carl is driving through a winter storm, remembering his wife, Karin:

A moment of total silence. With the windows down he sat and listened. He never failed to be awed by the silence, the odd rustle of snow falling gently to the ground from the laden fir trees. The odd animalistic sound deep in the forest, feral and prehistoric.

While this scene describes the landscape surrounding Carl, it also describes his isolation from the world. Lost in the snowdrift of his grief over his wife’s death, he is blinded by silence and whiteness and can’t move on with his life. The threat of Carl’s possible death looms throughout the story.

Annika Perry is a writer in tune with our deepest responses to the human condition, capturing the nuances of our psyche. Like an alert cat, she assesses carefully, knowing what to absorb for future use, how to convey realistic dialogue, which details will reveal more than the sum of their parts, and how to wind an unpredictable plot out of simple fare.

Unlike cats, Perry is respectful of people and all their foibles.

 

Image of cat courtesy of Pixabay

 

 

Comments on: "This Storyteller Purrs – A review of The Storyteller Speaks by Annika Perry" (101)

  1. Sharon, I am amazed at your clever and sensitive approach to the review of Annika Perry’s book ” The Storyteller Speaks ”
    She works like a cat you say and it makes me giggle. What a novel approach you have – and it works beautifully.

    Like you I have read the book more than once and some stories quite a number of times.
    They do catch you and grab hold. Every word seems to have a purpose, no blabbering.
    I have several favourite stories too and Whiteout Years is one of them. You picked a great passage.

    I do agree with your last sentence too, Perry show a great care and understanding of people
    and what makes us tick.

    Miriam

    Liked by 3 people

    • Miriam, I’m so glad you also loved Annika’s book. Thank you for your kind words about my review but it’s her book that deserves all the credit.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Miriam, I’m humbled by your lovely comment, thank you so much! It is true, I am constantly observing others, imagining their thoughts, lives, finding inspiration in all around me. Shari’s novel approach hit the mark in describing my thought process and creative writing style… and to top it all I love cats and had two very special ones! Maybe having them around rubbed off on me! 😀😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful review, Shari. I think you shared this book perfectly. RT.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Wow!! 😀 Shari. I’m astounded by this stunning review and can’t thank you enough.

    First, I am absolutely taken with your unusual approach … I’ve never seen anything like it and this gives the readers a real sense of me as s writer and the effect of the stories.

    I’m honoured by your descriptions of a few of the collection and touched how you sense and capture their depth.

    I’m beaming away and trying to absorb that not only did you read the book twice but one four times.

    Personally, The Whiteout Years is my favourite as well and it means a lot to me how you found its essence and shared the brief extract.

    Heartfelt thanks, my friend! ❤️ This means so very much to me and I fully appreciate the time and effort involved in such an imaginative and comprehensive review. Hugs Xx

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Jenna Barwin said:

    Wow! If the book is as well written as the review, we’re all in for a treat!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. […] I am honoured and touched by this latest review of my book and I am sure you will be enthralled and captivated by Sharon’s unique review which you can read in full on Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s Ink Flare. […]

    Like

  6. What a wonderful review! I immensely enjoyed Annika’s book. And I’m patiently waiting for new works by this gifted writer. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Jenna, as you can imagine I was overwhelmed and deeply touched with Shari’s review … she has a wonderful gift of writing and hopefully others will enjoy and be moved by my book just as much!

    Like

  8. What a wonderful review! Love Annika and her book, too! Thanks for putting her in the spotlight, Sharon.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a wonderful review. I’ve had this on my kindle for a while and have now bumped it up to the top of the tbr pile! Looking forward to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. hilarymb said:

    Hi Sharon – and Annika … what a great review … and I’m so looking forward to reading all the entries and then to referring back here. Love your descriptive way of writing up the review … now I’ll never think of cats the same way again! Cheers to you both and many congratulations Annika – no wonder you’re purring … enjoy the applause … Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have to say this is an excellent piece of reviewing, Sharon. I’m often not a huge fan of book reviews, preferring to pick and choose from a brief synopsis and the writer’s style, but they’ve become ‘de rigeur’ in the marketing world, and you’ve done a great job! 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jo, thank you for a very kind remark about the craftsmanship of the review. Especially for those who self-publish, reviews are a weighty part of their book’s promotion. I’m glad to have helped Annika and I think you’ll love the book, too.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Jo, your honest comment about reviews is one that I believe many share … whilst many still go by the synopsis and style of a book, reviews are as you say ‘de rigeur’ in today’s world. As Sharon rightly writes, indie authors particularly depend on these for promotion and reflecting a book! Sharon’s review here is a step above the standard review, a literary work in its own right! 😀 Wishing you both a great weekend! May Spring warmth find its way for us all! 😀

      Like

      • Thank you, again, Annika. The current state of book publishing, both traditional and self-pubbing, is not easy on any writer except for the most famous – celebrities, few to none who write their own books, and those authors whose names are recognized even by non-readers. It’s up to us to promote all other writers, and I was genuinely happy to assist you in my way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I do appreciate that, Annika- both about the necessity for, and the quality of this one. I hope I didn’t appear rude. Too blunt sometimes, I think! Have a good weekend too 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not at all, Jo … I love the discussions here on WP and feel I’m constantly learning.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. A marvelous review, and well-deserved!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That was an exceptional review. I loved your take on a collection of stories I enjoyed. Thanks for sharing and congratulations to Annika!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Excellent review. Really enjoyed your approach. As I have Annika’s book. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A beautiful review, Sharon. What a treat to read and remember the stories. If I hadn’t already read Annika’s wonderful book, I would! Perhaps I’ll have to browse the stories again. ❤ Congrats to Annika. She is clearly delighted. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Diane, I’m so glad my review reminded you of how much you liked Annika’s book. And it’s the best feeling to know that she’s delighted.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Diana, ‘delighted’ would be an understatement!! 😀😀 I’m surprised Sharon couldn’t hear my whoops of joy! 😀 She paints such a brilliant overall impression of the book and then brings it down to the detail of a few … so glad you’re tempted to browse the stories again and heartfelt thanks for your kind words. Happy Reading/Writing/Weekend! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks so much for sharing your outstanding review of Annika’s collection, “The Storyteller Speaks.” Sharon. I’ve recently moved this book up on my kindle and now must get reading! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I thoroughly enjoyed The Storyteller, and I wrote a review on it, but I was nowhere near as clever and creative as you are here in your magnificent review. Good job! To you, AND to the author. 🙂

    Like

  18. Congratulations to Annika on such a fabulous in-depth review. You must be floating. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great review and so happy to have found your blog through Annika. I also read The Storyteller Speaks and very much enjoyed her stories. I thought The Whiteout Years was one of her best! I also liked Sophia and Friends Forever. Looking forward to more from Annika 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Such a thorough, comprehensive, and glowing review. Thanks for sharing.

    Annika, I enjoyed your book, too, but you must be over the moon about this review. Congratulations.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. What a wonderful review of Annika’s book! Thank you, Sharon. Congratulations to Annika! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Oh what a wonderful and thorough review.
    I haven’t read Annika’s book, but her posts are always well written and thought provoking. And comments are always kind and thoughtful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Annika is always a bulwark for others, her words kind and appreciative, and her observations a keen vision. If you enjoy her posts, you’ll love her book. Thank you for stopping by, Jina.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jina, thank you so much for your words about my posts and comments … I’m just being me! 😀 I enjoy writing the posts and sharing; the discussions and friendships that have developed mean a lot to me … the interaction is a continual enriching experience. It’s been lovely to get to you know here on WP.

      Ahh… thank you so much for your continued support, Sharon – words cannot express my appreciation and thanks. hugs xx

      Liked by 1 person

  23. An absolutely wonderful review, Sharon! Annika has a way of touching emotions in few words. Congrats, Annika!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. What an absolutely amazing review of Annika’s glorious book of short stories. You’ve woven so much into this, enthralling, captivating and done complete justice to an author who I agree is nothing short of brilliant. Dare I say it’s purrrfect. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miriam, thank you for the big grin – I really like your last comment. And I’m glad you agree about Annika’s book. She’s impressed a lot of readers with her Storyteller and is hinting about a new book.

      Like

    • Miriam, your comment has me beaming and I love the last word!! 😀😀 Excellent summary of Sharon’s review! One which still staggers me and makes my heart fly with joy!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Sharon I have never read a review like this in my life. Should I ever publish my work, I would beg you to review me. LOL
    And on another note, this April is my attempt to relocate. You know I have severe visions problems, and I have stopped reading, BUT . When I am settled I definitely want to purchase her book. This review was a successful call to action.

    Bravo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrew, I’ve been impressed that even with your severe vision problems, you still read, you still write, and you still remain a loyal friend to me and many others. I didn’t know you were moving but it makes sense considering what you’re dealing with.

      I would be most glad to review your book when it’s published.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Smiling. We discussd the move back in January, maybe you didn’t take me seriously. I was complainging about the cold Like all New Yorkers do.
        It is Florida or bust. (A state if I remember correctly you aren’t too fond if. LOL)

        I continue writing and blog reading because it gives me joy and the interaction is fun.
        Not going to sit around and complain about my problems. Just stay inspired and write on.
        Just as you have done, my brave friend.

        Like

      • Oops, I do remember now – alligators! But I can see you wrassling them back to their swamp and then sitting on your patio, enjoying a rum and coke while they wriggle their way to bother some other more likely candidate.
        You’ll be fine in Florida.

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL If nothing else I will be warm.

        I have to get away from New York. Too many distractions here. I will never complete or sell my novels if I stay here.

        Like

      • I love so much about NY and hate so much about it as well, so I really get it. But Florida is pretty inviting – warm, tropical, loaded with wonderful people. Would be perfect except for those gators.
        I hope you do well with your books – I bet you have stories to tell.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Andrew, I felt exactly the same when I read this review – I’ve never read anything like it and honoured with her thoughts! I’m so glad this has tempted you to maybe reading my book. I’m so sorry to read about your vision problems. Is there anything that can be done? Does kindle help at all? I have a disease of my cornea which gives me vision problems and will ultimately require cornea transplants; ebooks have been a real life saver for me. Hope your move went smoothly and you’re enjoying the warmth of Florida. A beautiful place and one I didn’t want to leave when I visited a couple of years ago! Many thanks!😀

      Like

      • Annika, it’s great to know that reading on Kindle helps with your vision issues. A bit scary, I think, to be facing cornea transplants in future, and I certainly wish you well when that happens.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Sharon. For many years I have been part of a group with this disease, mainly in the US but there is a sub-group here in the U.K. and I’ve had the chance to meet with people who have had the transplants and for most it has gone very well.

        Like

      • It’s so good to be part of a group who can provide solid information about what to expect and will offer useful support. It must be a bit frightening to face such an operation but you have so many friends all over the world who will be pulling for you when the time comes.

        Liked by 1 person

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