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Review of The Solstice Baby & Other Stories - J.M. Langan

Knowing Jane and her writing as well as I do, and with a cover that brought back memories of an old copy of 'A Clockwork Orange' I was expecting this to be a collection of very dark, quite unsettling stories. However, although there are definitely some creepy elements to the stories within this book, as a collection, it is so much more than that. Whilst 'The Butcher's Tattoo' gave me a wicked chill down my spine, the titular story made me cry - it is poignant and beautiful and utterly heart-breaking in its conclusion. 'The Queen and the Soldier' and 'The Inside Out Girl' both touch on society's ills - the futility of war and the inability to accept people for who they are. 'The Gin Twist' is a masterclass in how to pack an enormous amount into very few words.

One of the things I love about Jane's writing is that in each and every story, her women are strong characters. Even when they are victims of circumstance or of other people, there is an element of the survivor to them - even when they have experienced unspeakable horrors, the desire to live, to endure and come through stronger is present. This collection doesn't shy away from the darker realities of life and yet it never become truly macabre or depressing. It goes without saying that I'm a fan of Jane's writing. Reading her work has opened me up to different genres and topics that I would never have touched in previous years and her skill and enthusiasm shines through in this collection.

There is something for everyone between these covers and as the blurb itself says 'Whether you have five minutes or an hour, you'll find something within these pages to fill your imagination.'

Jane wanted to be an actor. At eighteen, she realised this wasn’t for her and her true love was writing and photography. She has been doing that ever since. Her book of poetry, Blood Kisses is out now. You can also find her work in the anthology Footprints and Echoes, (both available on Amazon). She has been published extensively online and was shortlisted in the lockdown Haiku competition with Fish Publishing. She had a special mention from The Welsh Poetry Competition and was longlisted in the Mairtin Crawford Awards. Jane has a master’s in creative writing.

When she isn’t writing or taking pictures, you will find her tap dancing or drinking coffee curled up with one of her cats.

If you google Muddynosugar you will find her online.

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