ARC Review: Backstories by Simon Van der Velde

Book Details

Format: Paperback, 116 pages

Publication: March 25, 2021 by Smoke and Mirrors Press

Synopsis: Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth? These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

My Thoughts

Rating: ★★★★★

If you’re looking for a quick, fascinating read, this is your book. I was captivated by this one from the very beginning, and I’ve already pushed it off onto my boyfriend insisting he needs to read it. I’d never heard of a book with this premise before, so I was intruded when Simon messaged me on Twitter. Needless to say, I’m very glad I accepted the review request!

You could think of this book as a sort of game, which I found interesting and fresh. Each chapter is a different memoir-style backstory for various people that you think you know. This is one of the most engaging books I’ve read this year, actually; I was so invested in figuring out who each person was that I completely abandoned everything I was supposed to be doing.

The game put aside, this book actually opened my eyes to a lot of things that happened to each person. It really shows how even when you think you know everything about someone, there’s always something you won’t know. In some cases, I actually didn’t know who the person for a chapter was, so I’d go hunting for the answer. Naturally, I ended up falling into a rabbit hole of research.

This is the type of book to stick with you for a while. I’ve been thinking about it for nearly a week and a half now; I’ll randomly pick it up and leaf through it or start ranting about it to my dad. It’s also given me some new things for when I feel like bothering him with random facts I pick up here and there.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

Buy the Book

Amazon | Kindle*

*Available with Kindle Unlimited

Meet the Author

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Short-story Prize, The Harry Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story Competition and The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.

Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, Nicola, their labradoodle, Barney and two tyrannical children.

Connect with Simon: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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