Katie Mirowitz is a small little girl with an even smaller little voice. She possesses a deep love for her grandfather, who suffers from aphasia after a bad stroke cuts loose the part of his brain that processes verbal language. When Katie uncovers a miraculous secret inside the pages of her grandfather’s old journal, as well as an ancient key, she goes out into the woods in search of answers — hoping to uncover a mythical being that, if it exists, may just have the ability to grant wishes.
Author, blogger and all round good chap Nicholas Conley is at it again with another fine offering which, although short is an excellent read and well worth some of your currency.
The succinct nature of such works as this always leaves a challenge for the hard done to reviewer but nevertheless the workout is good after the Christmas binge. The cover is a wonderful piece of art and gives nothing away, only what the imagination speculates on. More of this type of book presentation would certainly be a more pleasing state of affairs for all readers and casual observers alike.
The first chapter is a genuinely moving entrance into the life of a young girl Katie, who is trying to understand her grandfathers sudden change after a stroke. Her lack of comprehension is a challenge to read but perfectly realised by the author. This is paralleled by her grandfather’s ingenuity and tenaciousness to overcome the communication problems that aphasia brings.
communication is a big part of this story, coupled with time and its cruel effects. It feels totally believable and I found myself hooked, reading through in one sitting. There is much scope for self-reflection as well and a reminder to view life through the eyes of a child every so often.
Each character is excellently crafted and all have the right balance of humanity and vulnerability, they feel real and that is the true strength of the book. Through their believability one is drawn further into the everyday lives that are as glorious at times as they are mundane; all of which allows the reader to welcome a turn in direction later on and accept it due to the foundations already laid down.
The descriptions are really effective from nightmares to old books and the visual language in some places that really helps place the reader into the situation. The feeling of childish and adult fears mixed together in a child’s mind is a very delicate theme to navigate, as well as ideas of existence, the cost of it and of how we value life. It is a powerful cross-section of themes, a mix which is always done well by Conley (see Pale Highway).
All in all Clay Tongue is a very satisfying read that will be read all in one sitting. This emotive offering has plenty of moving moments and a touch of the mystical as well which doesn’t intrude or take away from the piece in any way, all in all a good way to start your reading off for 2017.