Thursday, 23 March 2017

Electric Souk by Rose McGinty



About Electric Souk

Rose McGinty has written a powerful debut novel that crackles with energy and shimmers with lyricism, shedding light on a world that is half hidden.’ SOPHIE DUFFY, author of Bright Stars

‘An enthralling novel; beguiling characters that leap off the page and a beautifully conjured world. Exquisite writing infused with a creeping tension held me spellbound.’ JANE ELMOR, author of My Vintage Summer

‘With its unique blend of exuberance and menace, Electric Souk is a journey and an adventure’ ISABEL COSTELLO, The Literary Sofa

Humanity blisters in this haunting, lyrical thriller about trust and treachery. Ireland's gone bust, and with it Aisling Finn's life. She flees austerity for adventure in the desert. But the Arabia she finds is not that of her dreams. Everyone is chasing a fast buck, a fast woman and another G&T. Expats and locals alike prickle with paranoia.

Debonair fixer, Brian Rothmann, charms Aisling with champagne brunches and nights at Bedouin camps. But is Brian a hero or a desperate expat prepared to go to any lengths to get what he wants? Is this Aisling? Or is he using her as bait? Her only hope is Hisham, a local activist. But where do his loyalties lie?

Aisling faces severe peril when the sleazy expat and blood-lusting desert worlds collide, as the Arab Spring erupts. She has to ask, whom can she trust? Can she even trust herself?

My Review of Electric Souk

Oh my word! Where do I start? Other than by saying that I loved this book. It has everything. I'm not even sure what genre this book fits into is as it is part adventure story/part thriller/part romance/part spy novel/part epic journey...I could go on. . It is like no other book I have ever read and I was captivated from the very first page.

Electric Souk tells the tale of Aisling Finn, a thirty something Irish woman, who flees Dublin after a failed relationship to seek a brighter and more happier future in the Gulf desert working for the Health Board. However, life in the desert is far from easy, and although she does get her fair share of adventure, she gets far more than she bargained for.

This novel is told from Aisling's point of view and we see, hear and taste what she does. I could taste the red desert sand, smell the mint tea and hear the buzzing of the crowds at the Souk at nigh time. Rose McGinty has managed to capture the fragrance, intensity and the emotions of the desert and the lifestyle which may of us will never know.

We meet many colourful characters along the way. The first is Angie, the bubbly scouser who is in nurse training and who takes Aisling under her wing in this strange new country. Her Liverpudlian accent flew from the pages and I found myself smiling, remembering the voices of my old home. She is a strong female character, and this book is full of them. We have Laila, who becomes Aisling's Sister as well as her interpreter. She is feisty, intelligent, beautiful and quick witted. In contrast we have Mozah, a manipulative woman who is only out for her own ends. It is Aisling though, who had my attention.  The story is told from her point of view and I felt her vulnerability as well as growing strength. Although this book is about deception and learning who you can rust, it is also about Aisling's journey of self discovery.

This book is full of twists and turns. I was gripped until the very end, wanting to find out the many truths. Aisling is in a foreign country, she does not speak the language, nor does she fully understand the rituals and customs, and it is to others that she must turn to feel safe and be protected. But the big question that is raised is who can she trust? As a reader I had my doubts about those characters who seemed trustworthy. I too, just like Aisling, felt a creeping sense of doubt and building paranoia. We meet Mr Brian Rothmann, who is brought in to work on the project. Can Aishling trust him? Is he all who he seems? From the very first moment I met him, I did not like him and was wary of him throughout the novel. We also meet Hisham, Laila's brother, an activist, a polar opposite to Brian, a gentleman, and from the moment he appeared, I both trussed and liked him.
 
Electric Souk fully immerses you in the Arabic world. We go on trips to the mall for coffee and trinkets. We drink whisky from jam jars and stay up until 3 am in the morning. It really is a different lifestyle and one which is evoked beautifully on the page. It is very obvious that the author has spent time in the desert, and is aware of the lifestyle and customs, as she writes with such ease and knowledge.
 
I highly recommend Electric Souk as a book to escape the ordinary world. You will be gripped, shocked and thoroughly entertained. The language is poetic and the pages crackle with intensity. It really is a stunning debut novel.
 
Electric Souk is published on March 23 by Urbane Publications. You can find the book on Amazon here.

With thanks to the author and publisher who gave me an Advanced Reader Copy for review purposes.
 
About the author

Rose McGinty was born with itchy feet, which she has yet to decide is a blessing or a curse. Certainly, surviving Hurricane Sandy, an earthquake, a spider bite, jumping 192 metres off the Sky Tower in Auckland, and nearly being arrested for inadvertently smuggling a rocket in Vietnam, make her wonder about locking up her passport. But then, it was her adventures in the Middle East that gave her the itchy fingers to write. Rose lives in Kent, where as well as enjoying writing short stories, flash fiction and poetry, she also paints. She works in community health services and has worked overseas in Ireland, Canada, Sweden and the Middle East. She completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, under the guidance of Richard Skinner, in 2015. Electric Souk is her debut novel and Rose says of her story, 'The parts of the story that are true, I probably wish were not; while the parts that are not, I probably wish were true.'


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