Review: The Bricks that Built the Houses – Kate Tempest

42 - The Bricks That Built the Houses

Rating – 3*

I went in to this book blind, having read both of Tempest’s poetry books published I knew I had to give her turning her hand to prose a go. It was, as expected, glorious. Tempest’s background in rapping and poetry is evident in this book with the way she writes her prose, it’s lyrical and when reading it I couldn’t help but find a light rhythm to her words in places.

Ultimately, this book follows the lives of Harry and Becky – although Leon is mentioned in the blurb he has a much less prominent role. Along the way we meet and array of characters, we learn their stories and each one has a part in the forming of the people that Harriet and Becky are today. Even though the plot, what little of it there was, didn’t really resound with me I felt like I knew Becky and Harry, and all the people we were introduced to over the course of it, simply because she has such a grasp on people.

What Tempest excels at in this novel is her depiction of family dynamics. The way in which she paints the characters, and the overlaps and intersections of their lives are definitely her strength. She really just gets the human psyche, each character – and there are plenty – is unique and has their own voice; and yet it is still her voice which resounds.

This is definitely a character study, if you want a plot driven book this probably isn’t the one for you. While the plot is rather thin, and I love a plot driven book, this was a nice break in pace of my usual reads. I just found myself longing for more prose, and less dialogue (as anyone who has read my blog for some time now will know, I’m not a big fan of dialogue in books which can be quite unfortunate!)

As debut novels go, this as a good one. It didn’t engage me as fully as I had hoped, if there were more prose I would have easily given this 4*, however as it stands I feel it has to be a 3* – and a lowish one at that. I loved it, don’t get me wrong, it just wasn’t quite my cup of tea. I really can’t wait to see what she does next, this woman is seriously talented!

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