REVIEW: Swansong, Kerry Andrew

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Polly Vaughan is trying to escape the ravaging guilt of a disturbing incident in London by heading north to the Scottish Highlands. As soon as she arrives, this spirited, funny, alert young woman goes looking for drink, drugs and sex – finding them all quickly, and unsatisfactorily, with the barman in the only pub. She also finds a fresh kind of fear, alone in this eerie, myth-drenched landscape. Increasingly prone to visions or visitations – floating white shapes in the waters of the loch or in the woods – she is terrified and fascinated by a man she came across in the forest on her first evening, apparently tearing apart a bird. Who is this strange loner? And what is his sinister secret?

I am 22 years old, so I’m probably just a year or two older than the Swansong’s main character and yet, I do not know ANYONE of this age-bracket in real-life who acts like she does. I mean, yeah, maybe in 1998 or 2008, but in 2018? Young adults are just not like this anymore. Because of this, the story felt undeniably dated. The speed at which society changes seems to have grown exponentially since the millennium and sure, keeping up-to-date and creating a depiction of society that 18-25-year-olds won’t sneer at is difficult, but there’s no avoiding the fact that Kerry Andrew REALLY missed the mark on this one.
The main character, aside from all my quibbles about her age characterisation, was just awful. And sure, I like horrible characters but there’s a BIG difference between ones that you love-to-hate and those where you’re like, get-your-shit-together-because-you’re-pissing-me-off. She spends most of her time plastered, high or a bit of both, and every man in the entire Scottish village can’t help but feel attracted to her, and honestly, she just felt like a Mary Sue for the Myspace Generation.
The issue with that is, with the novel being written in first-person, her personality drives the entire plot forward and it honestly got to the point where I dreaded turning the page because I knew that all I was going to hear was more of her bogged-down self-pity. Because even though she’s supposedly “trying to escape the ravaging guilt of a disturbing incident in London”, she doesn’t seem to feel anything apart from worry about the consequences that will ricochet onto her.
This was only compounded by the writing, which was overly saturated in supposedly-clever metaphors and similes that, most of the time, didn’t make an ounce of sense. Honestly, after a while, even reading a few pages left me feeling exhausted and the entire thing became a slog.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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