This is a Bookish Chat and Review: All the Birds, Singing by Evie WyldMay 19, 2015
"Another sheep, mangled and bled out, her innards not yet crusting and the vapours rising from her like a steamed pudding. Crows, their beaks shining, strutting and rasping, and when I waved my stick they flew to the trees and watched, flaring out their wings, singing, if you could call it that. ... I'd been up that morning, before the light came through, out there, talking to myself, telling the dog about the things that needed doing as the blackbirds in the hawthorn started up. Like a mad woman, listening to her own voice, the wind shoving it back down my throat and hooting over my open mouth like it had done every morning since I moved to the island. With the trees rattling in the copse and the sheep blaring out behind me, the same trees, the same wind and sheep." - pg. 1, All the Birds, SingingThe novel tells the story of Jake Whyte, a sheep farmer living on her own on a dreary, frigid island in Great Britain. As the opening excerpt describes in graphic detail, something is killing her sheep. Interspersed with Jake's struggle to find out who or what is behind the slaughter is the story of how she came to be on the island. Wyld unflinchingly shows the reader just why Jake is the way she is; much like the opening paragraphs, most of it isn't pretty.
Actually, that thing I said about chattering to myself? I take it back. Immediately after devouring the book in two days, I
I think sharing parts of our chat will help guide my thoughts on this. Note that it has been edited for clarity and spoilers.
Also I just finished All the Birds. Omg
Julianne - Outlandish Lit:
tell me all your thoughts
Well I LOVED the structure
It had me flipping back and forth the whole time for details I'd missed that only made sense later on
Also all the ANIMALS
Wyld also has a thing for animals. Parts of the story take place in Australia, and I found myself Googling all kinds of new creatures while I read.
I actually really loved the ending
I just don't really think there was a definitive way to end the story
Julianne - Outlandish Lit:
I was reading somebody's review and they made a good point
about how it was kind of frustrating that the beginning of Jake's story was [REDACTED SPOILER]
and I was like oh...yeah. that's kind of lame
she phrased it better though
I mean I still love this book to pieces
I did think the end/beginning felt kind of rushed
like we didn't get enough time with her as a kid to understand her actions
Yeah I agree that a little more set up would have been nice
I don't think it bothers me as much as it could have because the details that come later are just so rich
And you can clearly see how one thing leads to another in a f*cked up way
The ending was a sticking point for a lot of readers, thus our extensive discussion about it. While I don't want to give it away, I'll say that it isn't a traditional way to end a story and might leave some readers dissatisfied. I felt that the ending fit the story perfectly, especially considering the glimpses we get into Jake's psyche and the trauma she's still experiencing.
The "beginning" of Jake's story that Julianne references was a bit of a letdown, mostly because it felt cliché in a way the rest of the story didn't. Because we only get a couple of chapters of young Jake, we don't get a great sense for how far back her mental deterioration began (for instance, was there abuse at home?). Like Julianne said, we don't really get why she acted like she did, which could have strengthened the story as a whole.
Overall, this felt like a minor flaw considering how masterfully the rest of the story was told. If you enjoy dark settings, offbeat storytelling, and troubled narrators, bump this one up on your TBR list. I know I'll be on the lookout for Wyld's next release.
Maybe I'll just post this chat in lieu of review
Oh, and if you enjoy me and Julianne messaging each other (sometimes vulgarly) about books, you should check out our chat reviews of The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Have you read All the Birds, Singing? I need someone else to message about it!