01 May 2017

Review: The Bricks That Built the Houses by Kate Tempest

RRP $17.99 AUD
(Out now)
* Copy courtesy of Bloomsbury *

I'm a little late to the party but I just finished reading The Bricks That Built the Houses by Kate Tempest and boy, does she have a way with words.

The prologue (entitled Leaving) was a face-slapping first encounter with a contemporary poet and I immediately understood the hype surrounding this young English poet and rapper.

In The Bricks that Built the Houses, Tempest has chosen/created two characters from contemporary London and given us their gritty backstory, including their innermost thoughts, hopes and aspirations.

Rich in language and character, the novel is also bleak in its depiction of life in the lower classes of London. The novel contains themes of drugs, youth, loneliness and hope and often forces the reader into deep reflection alongside the characters on all manner of topics.

Tempest has a unique talent to capture a person/character in a few words with enough realism that I felt as though I'd seen them myself somewhere before. Then they just seem to fade into the background of the story once again. Here's a perfect example from page 95 and one of my favourites from the novel:
"Pete sits down and watches an older guy - a few teeth missing, dirty face, long hair, scars mess his skin up like piss lines in a sandpit. He's got a cap on, can in his pocket." Page 95
Having heaped so much praise on her language and prose, I do need to confess that the ending was a real disappointment for me. I'm not sure how I wanted it to end, but after investing so much in the characters and being so impressed by the writing, I just wanted 'more'.

I believe Kate Tempest is a writer of her generation and I'm certain she will continue to generate jaw dropping and influential material across all of her creative outlets (novels, plays, poetry and the spoken word) in the future. Definitely one to watch.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

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  1. Hi Tracey, looks like a good one! It would be great if you added your review to the Books You Loved: May collection over at Carole's Chatter. If you would like to join in the fun on a regular basis please schedule a reminder for the first Wednesday of each month (NZ time). Cheers!

  2. Thanks Carole, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've just added my review to your list and enjoyed checking out the other great reviews there.


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