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Not to be Overlooked

By Nayisha Patel and Georgia Appleyard

Not to be Overlooked introduces a variety of wonderful but lesser-known books to assist readers in finding their next great reads. This week’s column covers a review of The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston and The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa.

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Review by Nayisha Patel


Florence Day is introduced to us in The Dead Romantics as a great romance author's ghostwriter. However, Florence no longer believes in love and happy endings following a painful breakup. She is battling to finish her novel on time when her life is suddenly changed by a phone call. For the first time in ten years, she must return home to attend her father's burial. She returns to a town reluctantly because it never understood her and made her feel lost, but when she gets there, she sees her new editor – who had just passed away – as a ghostly figure in the funeral home. They set out on a path of self-discovery, love and recovery together.


The story of The Dead Romantics is primarily one of loss and grief. Returning to her town pushes Florence to face her history and accept the loss of her father. The author skillfully conveys grief-related feelings, highlighting the gravity and intricacy of the grieving process. Readers are reminded of the strength of love and the value of preserving the memories of the deceased via Florence's experiences.


The way Florence's family is portrayed in The Dead Romantics is one of its best features. The Days family, who run the nearby funeral home, are a quirky and affectionate group. They honour life and see death as a normal part of the journey, despite their line of work. Their particular customs and rituals lend the narrative a certain element of magic while highlighting the value of family and the ties that bind us.


The writing of Ashley Poston is compelling and emotional. Her writing masterfully conveys the characters' feelings, enabling readers to empathise with them on a deeper level. It's a pleasure to read because the author manages to mix heartbreaking scenes with humour and lightheartedness. Her evocative descriptions also vividly depict the small southern town and its residents, drawing readers into the scene.


A compelling contemporary paranormal romance, The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston examines themes of loss, love, and redemption. Florence's return to her birthplace and her unanticipated bond with a spectral person makes for an intriguing and endearing reading experience. This book is certain to leave readers with a sense of hope and a renewed conviction in the power of love, thanks to its eccentric characters, touching moments and a hint of the otherworldly. Enter the world of The Dead Romantics and allow the captivating tale to charm you.


The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa

Review by Georgia Appleyard

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa is an enjoyable and heartwarming read, first published in Japan in 2017. In this quirky and charming novel, Natsukawa weaves a tale of magical realism that is both reflective and transportive, which fans of Toshikazu Kawaguchi's Before the Coffee Gets Cold series are sure to enjoy.


When the story opens, Rintaro is a high school student grappling with the loss of his grandpa, who was the proud proprietor of Natsuki Books. Retreating into his grief, Rintaro becomes a “hikikomori” by isolating himself from others, and he risks losing sight of the magic of the bookshop that his grandpa had so loved. Just as Rintaro is resigned to giving up and moving away to live with a distant relative, a talking cat visits the shop and the story takes a whimsical turn.


For many of us, a good bookshop can be a portal to literary worlds that are a reprieve from reality; The Cat Who Saved Books plays on this metaphor by transforming Natsuki Books into a gateway to other worlds. The anthropomorphic feline named Tiger, whose character is one of the highlights of the novel, presents Rintaro with a strange mission: to confront four so-called “Labyrinths” and save books from those who misunderstand and misuse them, including one character who chops books down to only a sentence or two to extract their “true meaning.” Joined by his classmate Sayo, Rintaro embarks on a coming-of-age journey which will have him confront not only the antagonists of the story, but also the meaning of life itself.


Whilst the formulaic structure of the “Labyrinths” may seem simplistic, the four adventures are skilfully executed, and Natsukawa’s writing is delicately layered. Rintaro’s mission to save books reveals deeper meanings along the way, with touching reflections on life, death and human connection. In a world inundated with reading challenges and never-ending to-be-read lists, The Cat Who Saved Books is a refreshing reminder to slow down and remember what makes each book special.




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