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Music for the Off-Key: Twelve Macabre Short Stories

Written by Ian Beetlestone for The Leeds Guide on no date provided

Newland's native West London has drenched this collection of '12 macabre short stories'; the pages are acrid with the smell and smoke of the area’s residential sprawl. The city is used expertly, like Scorcese or Woody Allen's New York. It informs on these strange tales and adds a foreboding and brooding tone, as if it were the weather or Lake District of the Romantics.

These stories are also authentically of the city themselves. Newland understands the way the people on the streets and estates of Notting Hill speak to each other; their concerns and their personal traumas. In this the stories are -- unsurprisingly, given the author’s other job as a playwright -- reminiscent of gritty urban theatre.

Yet these concerns are given fantastical edges -- there’s an accidental contract with a firm that arranges suicides. A homage to Angela Carter’s equally London-entranced Nights at the Circus in which a deprived drop-out finds new freedom. Bold, inventive and engaging.

This is a review of Music for the Off-Key: Twelve Macabre Short Stories

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