Wednesday, 29 March 2023

The Space Between Us by Doug Johnstone BLOG TOUR #TheSpaceBetweenUs @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #MeetSandy #BookReview


Connecting will change everything…
Lennox is a troubled teenager with no family. Ava is eight months pregnant and fleeing her abusive husband. Heather is a grieving mother and cancer sufferer. They don’t know each other, but when a meteor streaks over Edinburgh, all three suffer instant, catastrophic strokes... 
...only to wake up the following day in hospital, miraculously recovered. 
When news reaches them of an octopus-like creature washed up on the shore near where the meteor came to earth, Lennox senses that some extra-terrestrial force is at play. With the help of Ava, Heather and a journalist, Ewan, he rescues the creature they call 'Sandy' and goes on the run. 
But they aren’t the only ones with an interest in the alien … close behind are Ava’s husband, the police and a government unit who wants to capture the creature, at all costs. And Sandy’s arrival may have implications beyond anything anyone could imagine…

The Space Between Us by Doug Johnstone was published on 2 March 2023 by Orenda Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this blog tour.

The Space Between Us was selected for BBC TV's Between The Covers series. 

Those people who follow my reviews will know that I am a huge fan of Doug Johnstone's writing. His novel 'Breakers' is one of my all time favourite books and I recommend it to all. More recently, his wonderful series about a family of women who are both detectives and undertakers has been a huge success. I adore the Skelfs. 

When I heard that his latest novel was described as science fiction, I wasn't sure what to think. I'm a fan of dystopia, and a bit of magical realism, and Johnstone did touch upon a little science fiction in his book Faultlines in 2018, so I embraced this new direction in his writing and got stuck in! 

What a wonderful, beautifully written and eye opening novel this is! Yes, there's a five legged octopus with pulsating lights that can transmit telepathic thoughts to the human characters, but oh my goodness, it really is so much more than that. 

This is a study in relationships and a fabulous jaunt through the Highlands of Scotland, with descriptive prose of landscape that will take your breath away, and incredible insight into human frailties and all that makes us human to boot. 

The three main characters; Lennox - a boy who has grown up in the care system; Ava - a pregnant woman who has spent her marriage being controlled and bullied, and Heather - a woman who is dying physically, but who died emotionally on the same day that her beloved daughter was finally killed by the cancer inside her. 

Three totally different characters, three people who are flawed yet are startlingly real. The reader may not always think the characters make the right choices, but my God, they will support them every step of the way. 

Alongside the three, there's Ewan - a reporter who is hot on the trail of this story about some sort of alien washed up on a beach in Scotland.  And then, of course, there is Sandy. Sandy is that alien, named by Lennox and considered to be more than one, referred to as 'they' or 'them'.  Sandy isn't a threat, despite what the officials that hunt them may think. Sandy is fleeing horrors too, making them just like their human counterparts. This is not an invasion, this is a refuge for Sandy.

There is so much to talk about, so much to dissect, in this book. It could be seen as a road trip through the wilds of Scotland, a chase to the end. It could be classed as an action, adventure story, but dig deep and you will find a story of humanity. A story that reflects our current world. A story that is so beautifully written with prose so powerful that it leaves you breathless at times. 

Doug Johnstone really is a master, this is genius and so accessible. Don't miss it. 

Doug Johnstone is the author of fourteen previous novels, most recently Black Hearts (2022). 

The Big Chill (2020) was longlisted for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year and three of his books, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), have been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. 

He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade, and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. 

Doug is a songwriter and musician with six albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of writers. 

He’s also co-founder of the Scotland Writers Football Club, and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

Instagram @writer_dougj

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