Everybody's Reading

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Review by Katherine Hetzel of "The Knowing" by Kevan Manwaring

The Knowing follows the story of Janey, an American singer who, when we first meet her, is pretty much at rock bottom in her life. But when a mysterious journal is left for her, everything changes; she is forced to confront the past, clean up her act and find a new path with the help of her Scottish ancestors.

Janey discovers she has The Knowing – she is able to see beyond our world and into faerieland because of a curse laid on a distant relative and passed down through the female line. The journal provides the link between the two worlds, with Robert Kirk – captive of the Fairy Queen and one of Janey’s ancestors – writing about his life in captivity and living in the hope that, one day, a descendant of his will release him. In relation to fairyland, the author is knowledgable and draws on existing literature from Robert Kirk’s own research into all things faerie in the 17th century, as well as having done some serious research into the music that Janey sings and the Scottish landscape she visits.

What makes this book interesting is that, throughout the main narrative provided by Janey, there are points where the reader can hear parts of the story told by other voices – read Robert Kirk’s journal, or see the life of one of Janey’s ancestors through whom The Knowing is passed, for example. Although readers are assured that they can read the main narrative on its own without following these links, I did not find it so; in certain places, the main narrative would not have made sense without visiting the ‘other voice’, yet in other places, the break in narrative felt false and unnecessary, even annoying at times. I confess to not following all of them, because a lot of the information relating to Janey’s ancestors had been revealed by researchers Allen or Eliza before we encountered the same information, albeit told differently. Using digital media in this way is reasonably novel, so perhaps it is something to be refined in future works. The novel has an appealing plot and uses digital media in a clever way to bring other voices into the main narrative.

About the reviewer 
Katherine Hetzel is an ex-microbiologist who took to writing stories for her children when they were young. She now writes mainly for children, having published two books of short stories and one novel (StarMark) to date, with another due to be published this summer. She has also been published in several anthologies for adults, blogs at Squidge’s Scribbles, and enjoys visiting schools to deliver creative writing sessions. 

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