There are dark forces at work in our world (and in Manchester in particular), so thank God The Stranger Times is on hand to report them . . .
A weekly newspaper dedicated to the weird and the wonderful (but mostly the weird), it is the go-to publication for the unexplained and inexplicable.
At least that’s their pitch. The reality is rather less auspicious. Their editor is a drunken, foul-tempered and foul-mouthed husk of a man who thinks little of the publication he edits. His staff are a ragtag group of misfits. And as for the assistant editor . . . well, that job is a revolving door – and it has just revolved to reveal Hannah Willis, who’s got problems of her own.
When tragedy strikes in her first week on the job The Stranger Times is forced to do some serious investigating. What they discover leads to a shocking realisation: some of the stories they’d previously dismissed as nonsense are in fact terrifyingly real. Soon they come face-to-face with darker forces than they could ever have imagined.
Author: C. K. McDonnell
Series: The Stranger Times #1
Release Date: 6th January 2022
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Chosen Format: Paperback
My Rating of ‘The Stranger Times’: 5 out of 5
I’ve never really tried Pratchett beyond a cursory glance at The Colour of Magic. I didn’t really get on with it (years and years ago), but this book has been described as ‘Pratchett-esque’ and, if that is genuinely true, then I’m going to have to dig The Colour of Magic out and give it another go as this book absolutely hit the sweet spot for me.
I’ll not lie, it took me a short while to get into it and to get onboard with the writing style. After I had, however, I was hooked. I was waking up an hour early before work and staying up a tad later than my self-imposed bed time just so I could squeeze a few more pages in here or there.
I love the cast of characters McDonnell has created. My personal favourite, sheerly down to his brash, overbearing attitude and hilarious way with words is Banecroft. There’s a deeper story with him that I look forward to the author pursuing. But that’s not to say everyone in here doesn’t have their little mysteries held closely to their chest, as they most certainly do.
The Stranger Times is a place for the weird, the whacky, the unbelievable and, in all honesty, those members of society who just don’t fit in anywhere else. Those who fit in the least gravitate towards it and find a job working there, by the sounds of it.
There are a couple of POVs, with Hannah’s being the focal point throughout most of it. Her POV works wonderfully as she is essentially as green to the whole situation as the reader. We pick up with her on the day of her job interview and stick with her from there on out. As she discovers something weird and puzzles out how it can be so, as do we.
One of the absolute best aspects to this book is that it not only caters to those who see ghosts, aliens, bigfoot etc … in every shred of weird or unexplainable phenomena, but it pokes fun at them as well. Anyone who’s ever had an interest in the paranormal, or watched one of the ghost-hunting shows/read a bizarre magazine, can get something out of this book. Provided they enjoy comedy, obviously. It’s light-hearted and written to make you laugh. If that’s not your thing, then you’ll not get on well with this.
The overall pace is excellent and the way the plotlines on both sides of the good and evil side of things work and intermesh are very well done. It’s rare a book grabs me by the collar and refuses to let me go these days, but The Stranger Times certainly did that. It appeals to my own weirdness and hopes of there really being bizarre stuff going bump in the night out there somewhere.
I’ll certainly be following this series closely. Book two is already out but I’m forcing myself to hold off until book three is in sight. This one was a random purchase at a book store on a day trip down south to Bath. I picked it up for two reasons One: the cover is pretty amazing which prompted me to check out, and like the sound of the blurb. Two: sheer stubbornness. I didn’t want to leave a bookstore empty-handed. I think I’ll be going in blind to book stores more often rather than with any real purchase in mind.