Book Review: Punch by Kate North

Punch by Kate North
Release Date: 4th March 2019
Publisher: Cinnamon Press
Pages: 114
Buy: Paperback

Punch is a collection of stories exploring the uncanny, the uncomfortable and the surreal in the everyday, at home and abroad. Whether its a man with a growth on his hand, a couple trying for a baby, a woman finishing a book, a pope with penis envy, or a bullied girl, characters throughout the collection assess their surroundings and are often forced to reassess themselves. Punch offers the reader a humorous and disturbing take on life in the twenty-first century.

As much as I love short stories I feel as though I don't read enough of them. I never really know where to start when looking for collections to read, so I was really looking forward to reading Punch when I was offered the opportunity to take part in the blog tour for Kate North's debut.

I was really intrigued by the synopsis, particularly how it states that these stories examine the everyday lives of their characters and this was actually one of the things that I enjoyed about this quirky and fascinating collection. The majority of these characters are just going about their everyday lives and it demonstrates just how interesting the mundanity of everyday life can be.
One of the things I enjoyed most about these stories - yet it took me a while to get used to this - was how that nothing extraordinary seemed to happen (but that's not in any way a bad thing!) As I started reading the stories I was waiting for the big crescendo to happen...and it never did. It was then that I started to look at these stories in a different way and appreciate them for what they are, which is an fascinating take on the human psyche and how we react to the everyday situations that we find ourselves in.
If human beings fascinate you then you absolutely must read this. I loved the way it examined human behaviour and it really got me thinking about lots of things, including some of the themes touched upon in these stories.
A few of these stories also REALLY freaked me out. Mask, Lick and Fifteen Arthur Crescent to name but a few. I found these three stories creepy, unsettling and disturbing and these three in particular reminded me of Roald Dahl's wonderful collection of stories, Tales of the Unexpected.
I really enjoyed these three tales, despite them making me a bit on edge, but I think my ultimate favourites in this collection were Beaujolais Day and Punch. Both examine bullying and have what I considered to be an extremely satisfying ending.

Kate's writing is assured and her characterisation is brilliant; despite these only being short stories you still feel as though you get to know some of the characters and find yourself invested in them and their stories.

The brilliance of a short story collection is that they are perfect for coffee breaks and dipping in and out of whenever the mood takes. Punch is ideal for this - many of us don't get as much reading time as we'd like and find ourselves grabbing the odd page here and there (you know what I mean, 5 minutes before bed, dentist's waiting room etc) and I'd highly recommend you spend your coffee break getting lost in Punch. Fascinating, funny and highly addictive, this is a really strong and promising debut which has definitely given me a taste for short stories...


A huge thank you to Karen for the opportunity to be a part of the official blog tour for Punch.

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