Hysterical Fiction: A Book Review

John Hynes

Hysterical Fiction: A Review of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

This was a book that, at first glance, I really wanted to like. The cover was beautifully designed, with praise from some well-known authors. However, judging this book by the cover would be far too generous. As soon as you begin reading, you’re welcomed into a predictable, played out plot stolen from countless young adult novels, with characters much the same. Connie, our heroine, brings little to offer, only doing what is precisely expected of her by the reader: stumbling blindly forward, acting without any depth or substance, and shockingly little common sense, for an allegedly educated main character.

The writing, however, separates it from the painfully generic young adult novel it so desperately craves to be. Katherine Howe uses unnecessarily long, drawn out phrases with atrociously florid language, to describe minute and unnecessary details that add little to the quality of the story.

“At least,” you might be thinking, “she’s historically accurate, right?” You would be sorely wrong, my friend. The historic segments vary from ‘decently researched’ to ‘complete nonsense’ fairly regularly, only serving to push plot points home that had already been made obvious by the events in the present.

Ultimately, this first novel fails to live up to its literary praise, and utterly disappoints those in search of a strong or interesting female lead. Additionally, the plot and writing form up what is essentially an overdressed one-off teen novel, pretending to be a serious work of literature. Overall, I’d have to give it two stars, for effort.

Process Album Review

Noah Elmore

Sampha’s debut album Process was a project long awaited from fans of hip-hop, R & B, soul, and electronica. First springing into the mainstream in 2010 as a part of the electronic group SBTRKT, Sampha is a British singer-songwriter who has experimented in a distinctive blend of genres. Most well-known for his collaborations in the hip-hop community, Sampha has been featured on Drake’s “Too Much” and Kanye West’s “Saint Pablo”, the latter a song that is hailed among the best on the album, praised frequently for its moving outro, sung by Sampha himself.

Process begins with “Plastic 100°C”, a song that sums up the album well. Present with the dark and moody themes that prevail through the rest of this album, it’s sung with heart and power. Sampha continues to showcase his vocal prowess over perhaps his most popular song, “Blood on Me”. Explained by himself in a Genius interview, the song is about a dream-state where he is being chased for things he has done wrong. The regretful theme again is present here.

Continuing with “Kora Sings”, Sampha again exemplifies why he is an artist that is here to stay. His lyrics are poetic, and laced with metaphors and other intricate literary devices. Some soaring synths provide a nice break from the heaviness of the two previous tracks as well, showing diversity. The ballad “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” is perhaps the best track on this album. Stepping away from the confines of synths and drum rhythms, Sampha carries this song on his vocals and a delightful piano solo. This song is a true stand-out on an album full of other powerful songs.

The albums marches forward, albeit somewhat slowly, until “Timmy’s Prayer”. This song displays more versatility here, with the beginning of this song featuring a falsetto voice from Sampha in a faux-soul song here. The wide spectrum of genres that Sampha can dabble in is impressive, let alone how well he does each of them. However, the true defining moment in this song comes about halfway through as the beat changes from a slow drum pattern to an up-tempo synth filled track. Singing about all of his faults and mistakes, the emotion wields enormous power and conveys a true sense of who Sampha is, errors and all.

Overall, the album has few, if any weak spots. The only criticism, for me, is that around the middle of album it can be a little same-y. Some of the tracks can start to blend together, something that is very easy to happen when the high-pitched dream-like vocals and synths mesh. While that is the concept strived for, I still would’ve liked some more shocking punches to snap out of that trance, like the ones present on “Blood on Me” and “Timmy’s Prayer”. This album scores a 9/10 for me, and is definitely one of my favorite albums of 2017.

For fans of this album, I recommend: SBTRKT by SBTRKT , Nothing Was The Same by Drake, and LP1 by FKA Twigs.