The Sound Of Your Soul by Anna Cookson

Good afternoon, bookworm, it’s lovely to see you again. Now, you may need to duck a little as you come through to the library; I was digging around in the old attic just out of curiosity, and came across some old, foil Christmas decorations like the ones I remember my mum hanging up when I was but a wee bookworm. I love how they concertina from being completely flat to an intricate design, gently swaying as life bustles past them. As an added bonus, the cats and dragons have been the quietest I’ve seen them in a long time, as they become fixated on the shiny foil and the light it casts, rather as if they’ve been hypnotised by these jellyfish-like decorations. Ooh, that reminds me – have you read The Sound Of Your Soul by Anna Cookson? I appreciate it seems a strange segue but have a look at the cover, while I make you a cup of hot chocolate, and you’ll see why.

Let’s start with the blurb: There are no fish, in the future. We killed them.

But it’s not just the ghosts of the shoals making artist Cally Dune unhappy.

Her husband has gone. Vanished, after being called up for the President’s new ‘Training Scheme’.

“No body ever comes back the same.” Worried whispers drift through the pubs, gathering like rain clouds to drip their paranoia into Cally’s mind, which is already marinaded in grief for Simon and fear about being called to Training herself.

Letting the wine flow into the places where it hurts, Cally stumbles into the arms of a clammy banker and unwittingly discovers a disturbing and painful secret. She is propelled on a journey through the dust of Africa and the hidden tunnels deep below London… unravelling the fading scrolls of the ancient Egyptians and illuminating their lurid hieroglyphics.

And ultimately towards a heartbreaking choice… to save her marriage or save her soul.

Because now there’s something else at stake.

They are coming for it.

And it’s inside her.

Now, here’s a little about the author: Anna Cookson is an award winning TV and radio presenter, currently hosting the breakfast show on BBC Radio Kent. She can also be heard on BBC Radio London and in her work as a voiceover artist.

Anna has broadcast for some big names including Radio 1, QVC, Magic, Kiss, LBC, Capital and Heart. She won a New York Award for her chat show, Girls Talk, which was also nominated for a Sony Academy Award.

When she’s not talking or writing, you’ll find her travelling the world, climbing mountains and running marathons. She also enjoys practicing yoga, reiki and painting.

And here’s my review: I have to really force myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to dystopian fiction. The genre and I don’t generally see eye to eye, but I will venture into it now and again. Imagine my surprise when I found that, instead of a dystopian plot with action packed scenes making sci-fi books snort with derision, I actually held in my hands a thing of beauty, an exquisite blend of poetry, spirituality and yes, science fiction. It doesn’t sound like it should work and yet it does; oh, how well it does.

As I read the novel, I was filled with a feeling of claustrophobia, perhaps from the new government’s regime of monitoring and controlling their citizens via their mandatory iEyes, compulsory Training, and removal of anything pertaining to religion. Being a creative type myself, I empathised with Cally’s need to express herself through her art, creating paper fish installations which drew the laser beam of government scrutiny right to her, and later, painting the horror of what she had encountered in the banker’s room.

I felt as though something was muffling sound and voice, as Cally tried unsuccessfully to convince those around her that there was something dangerous, blasphemous and diabolical within the President’s agenda. Her grief also seemed to mute her as she tried to make sense of losing her baby, her husband and a deep seated grief of losing her father.

Simon, mainly referred to as ‘you’ in the novel, is with Cally in the many small nuances of life which evoke memories of their relationship and their intertwined souls. Her relationships with friends and family wax and wane in the book, as some begin to think Cally has finally lost all touch with reality, leaving her surrounded by people but totally alone. A clandestine gathering underground brings her character to life as she marvels at her surroundings and the enlightened concept shared secretly by those she encounters, and her sense of childlike wonder filled me with hope for her future. But nothing is ever that simple, is it…?

I’m struggling to say too much more about the plot without giving things away so instead, I must tell you that this deeply atmospheric book pulled me into its depths and left me gasping for air until I emerged, still feeling every lyrical description, every hushed dialogue and every surprise I encountered as I raced towards the stunning finale.

Yes, this is a dystopian book, and yes, it has elements of science fiction. But it is so beautiful and poetic that I feel it needs it’s own, special category. Literary dystopia? Sci-FLit? I’m not sure, but I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who enjoys the beauty that can be created by language and words, but is also open to the possibility of venturing into the unknown within us. 5 stars from me!

If you like the sound of this and would like a copy for yourself, just click on the book image to take you to the relevant page on Amazon. I don’t receive anything for doing this, I’m just being a helpful bookworm. Thank you to the author, publisher and Rachel’s Random Resources for the digital copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.

Ah, it seems the the hypnotic trance which held the dragons and cats in awe of the foil decorations has ended: Something appears to have ripped one of the decorations down and, yes, I do believe I’ve just seen a cat run up a wall to try and catch one… oh well, it was peaceful while it lasted! Do excuse me, bookworm, goodbye for now!

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