spill simmer falter wither

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

Do not glance at this book's synopsis or the silhouette of the dog on the cover and assume it to be cutesy or heartwarming or gentle. 

If those elements are what you expect of this novel, you will be disappointed and, perhaps, a bit horrified. Though I must admit that it does rather glow with warmth and tenderness... though that glow is sharply framed by bitterness, cold, dark, dark melancholy and gruesomeness. 

My favourite sort of story! 

A man adopts a terrier, a former badger-baiter with one eye newly taken by his prey. His reasons for adopting the dog aren't clear, and when the reader begins to make assumptions, they may find they're mistaken... but perhaps not, ultimately. The man comes across as a beaten down, social outcast and while this may be true in some sense, he does not remain at that base generic personality. 

Sharply funny, jaggedly violent and surprising. I haven't mentioned how eloquent and gorgeous the writing is. I've read other reviews of readers losing interest, who felt like there's no movement of plot. It's quiet, in its own way, but I listened to it on audiobook (narrated by an amazing John Keating) and the narration kept me hooked long enough to deeply appreciate and love the language.