Book blogger Marc Forrest-Thomas finds the tension is subtle but always present in Claire Fuller’s The Memory of Animals.

I was a HUGE fan of Unsettled Ground and love Claire Fuller’s (pictured right) writing style so naturally I had high hopes for The Memory of Animals and it did not let me down.

Neffy is struggling through life, dealing with the fallout of an incident that has derailed her career. This leads her to volunteer to be part of a vaccine trial during the early days of what is to be a global pandemic. This is the jumping off point for the main body of the story, although we do go backwards and find out more about what has led Neffy to this point. Something happens early on at the lab which changes the dynamic dramatically and we then follow the remaining inhabitants whilst they do what they can to survive. Neffy is on her own journey and everybody has a keen interest in her. The reason for this will become clear when you read the book. The story flows well as the impending threat intensifies. The tension is subtle but always present and the way that this develops throughout is measured and never over the top. There is a procedure being developed and explored throughout Neffy’s time in the lab which allows people to revisit moments from their past. These sections were great and gave helpful insight into Neffy’s life. What I loved most were the letters written to ‘H’ which delve into Neffy’s past and show her love for and knowledge of octopuses. There are so many themes to unpick in this book but I loved the dystopian, almost apocalyptic feel and the nods to science fiction.

This certainly felt different in terms of theme for a Claire Fuller novel but her writing style is so distinctive that there is still familiarity there. Claire has such a command of language that it’s hard not to get completely absorbed in the worlds that she creates.

Claire Fuller will be joined by Katherine Bradley (The Sisterhood), a retelling of George Orwell's 1984, on Saturday 29 April at 16:00, in a session called Brave New World, hosted by Ayisha Malik (The Movement).

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