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The Crack Magazine

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The House With Two Letter-Boxes by Janet H Swinney

This short story collection, set in the north-east, shows how a variety of characters can live in communities where everyone thinks they know each other’s secrets. While stories like ‘Slipping the Cable’ don’t shy away from the darkness found in so many homes, Swinney also writes of powerful camaraderie and neighbourliness (even in unexpected people). Her writing takes readers to a place and time, but she’s also great at ramping up the tension and atmosphere of each scene. She deftly handles characters of all ages, but I especially enjoyed reading the stories that touched on how a life can turn out completely different from how some people had envisioned. Sometimes painfully so. (The grief of lost hopes often hurts these characters more than present pains.) Each story is transporting, vivid, and full of emotions, and this collection is another that speaks of the strong northern storytelling tradition. KM

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