How Saints Die

by Carmen Marcus

Crime / Mystery Debut Books of the Month Family Drama Thriller and Suspense

LoveReading View on How Saints Die

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018

Gosh, this is provocative, powerful, and actually rather beautiful, I will admit to being completely bewitched. Ellie Fleck is ten years old, she lives with her father Peter on the North Yorkshire coast, her mother no longer lives with them. We spend time with Ellie, and the people around her, as she tries to understand what has happened.  Ellie’s words sing with intensity, a child’s words, spilling on to the page, yet they seared their way onto my soul, and remain there. She describes sounds, I tested them myself, hearing, seeing, feeling, right in the centre of my stomach. She views the unseen, hears what isn’t audible, tests herself and those she loves as she reaches for comprehension. Carmen Marcus has the lightest, yet hard-hitting touch, I have fallen completely under the spell of her writing. ‘How Saints Die’ made me feel, I felt every word, every sentence, and I highly recommend meeting, and getting to know Ellie Fleck. ~ Liz Robinson

How Saints Die Synopsis

Selected by Sarah Moss as a Book of the Year 2017 in The Big Issue

Ten years old and irrepressibly curious, Ellie lives with her fisherman father, Peter, on the wild North Yorkshire coast. It's the 1980s and her mother's breakdown is discussed only in whispers, with the promise `better by Christmas' and no further explanation. Steering by the light of her dad's sea-myths, her mum's memories of home across the water, and a fierce spirit all her own, Ellie begins to learn - in these sudden, strange circumstances - who she is and what she can become. By the time the first snowdrops show, her innocence has been shed, but at great cost. This vivacious and deeply moving novel portrays adult breakdown through the eyes of a brightly imaginative child, sensitively explores questions of responsibility and care, and, above all, celebrates the power of stories to shape, nourish and even save us.

How Saints Die Press Reviews

The dramatic and metaphorical strands of Marcus's narrative are densely woven, and Ellie is a winning protagonist... But it is the sensitively drawn sorrows and vulnerabilities of the novel's adults that are perhaps most affecting -- Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail

A poignant and powerful exploration of mental health, poverty and identity, all seen through the eyes of a child... Marcus builds a compelling world which combines the mundane with the mystical, the domestic with the mythic... Marcus has created a memorable young heroine who possesses the same kind of innocent intelligence, forthright self-assurance and aching vulnerability as Harper Lee's Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird... A heart-warming and deeply affecting portrayal of a very special father-daughter relationship -- Yvette Huddleston, Yorkshire Post

In How Saints Die Carmen Marcus announces herself as a powerful and original talent. This is a novel as restless, as seductive and as dangerous as the sea that forms the backdrop to the story, while in Ellie Fleck Marcus has created one of the great child protagonists. A compelling story with a warm heart written in language that is both vivid and raw. I loved this book. -- Stephen May

A soaring success; beautiful and devastating... In graceful prose, Marcus sketches an image of the North Yorkshire coast then adds the snap of the cold wind, the sting of sea spray, the hotness of welling tears. The book is stunningly evocative - of a time, of a place, of childhood, and of what it means not to fit in... This book is beautiful, from cover to core. The Skinny

A magic-tinged look at adult problems through the eyes of a child. Emerald Street 


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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781911215400
Publication date: 13/07/2017
Publisher: Harvill Secker an imprint of Vintage Publishing
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781911215400
Publication date: 13th July 2017
Author: Carmen Marcus
Publisher: Harvill Secker an imprint of Vintage Publishing
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 368 pages
Genres: Crime / Mystery, Debuts of the Month, Family Drama, The Desmond Elliott Prize, Thriller / Suspense,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Carmen Marcus

Carmen Marcus lives in the Victorian spa town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea. Her writing has been described as `crackling dangerously with inherited magic yet achieving contemporary vitality'. She is in much demand as a performance poet and has appeared at the Royal Festival Hall. Recently she has been commissioned by BBC Radio 3's Verb New Voices. How Saints Die is her first novel, and as a work in progress it won New Writing North's 'Northern Promise' Award.

More About Carmen Marcus

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