Skip to main content


Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

 Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani Twelve powerful people are kidnapped and imprisoned in an empty hotel. Each one of them has three choices: Live out the rest of their days peacefully in the hotel, Die by suicide so the rest of their companions can go free, Or murder one of their companions so they alone can go free. The Only Way Out is Death follows the story of these twelve people from the perspective of a young lawyer, Kiriaki, told as the events unfold. She has to forge messy alliances, navigate complex relationships and feuds, and, above all, try to stay alive. Meanwhile, the mastermind of this death game is lurking just out of view, watching them closely, making sure they are primed for murder. Will Kiriaki find the mastermind before it's too late for her? Will she outmanoeuvre the cutthroats before they cut her throat? There are twelve selfish lives in the hotel. Will it end in twelve selfish deaths? The Only Way Out is Death is a fascinating nov

Review - Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang

Review - Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang

What would you steal for successes: her face? her name? her skin? Athena Liu is a literary darling. June Hayward is literally nobody. Who wants stories by basic white girls anyway? But now Athena is dead. And June has her unfinished manuscript…

I recently read Rebecca F Kuang's new fantasy masterpiece, Babel, so I was very excited to read something else by her. Yellowface is so completely and utterly different to Babel that I'd have had trouble believing it was by the same author if I hadn't heard her talk about it at a Babel event in Toppings Edinburgh. 

That's absolutely not a criticism though. If anything it shows that this is an author with incredible range, able to adapt her style and approach to the story she wants to tell. With Babel that was an epic story about language and colonialism, identity and etymology;. With Yellowface it is a searing examination of the publishing industry.

No one gets away unscathed either. There are the fickle, jealous fellow authors, the ambitious new debuts, the opiniated, bitchy assistant editors and disinterested agents. There are the bloggers, feeding on drama, and the family members who don't really understand but are vaguely supportive. There's the dangers of reading Goodreads reviews and the thrill of a Kirkus starred review. Rebecca Kuang has really pulled the curtain back in this book, exposing how bestsellers are more often than not created by a team who decide which books and which authors are going to have a massive impact and which ones are going to slump quietly onto bookshop shelves to gather dust. It's witty, incisive and oh so accurate. And at the heart of it is Twitter and the social media book world's love of drama. We see the devastating effects of Twitter pile=ons, from the first, quiet tweet that gathers speed and traction, the bloggers and authors weighing in on both sides, the messaged threats and support, then the media picking up the story and throwing it haphazardly onto front pages. We see the anxiety and fear it causes, and that self-destructive impulse that has us constantly reaching for our phone to see what people are saying about us when we know fine well we should block, lock and walk away from it all.  We see publishing's love of diversity and what that actually means for authors involved. 

At the centre of it all is Junie. An author who didn't exactly set the world on fire with her first novel, only to have a potential bestseller fall into her lap, written by her best friend, an award-winning novelist she just saw die. With Junie and through Junie we see it all. We see those early hopes of a published author, and we see them dashed when the industry does what it always does and picks its winners and its losers before they ever see a printed copy. We see the dizzying whirlwind of success, and the implications of those social media controversies. We share in her fears and anxiety; what if her secret comes out? What if this whole house of cards comes tumbling down? 

One of the cleverest elements of this novel is it gives us the room to make our own mind up about Junie. She justifies each and every one of her actions, to herself and to the reader. Her conviction is strong enough at times to make her believe that she's only ever done the right thing. But is it enough to convince the reader? I love how we can each decide that for ourselves, in this morally grey area. Yellowface is dark, clever and brilliant!

A novel about publishing so realistic that I can taste the warm white wine at the launch party.


Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang is published on 25 May 2023 by Harper Collins UK.

I was given a review copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.


Popular Posts