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Review of The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell

An ARC copy was provided by Netgalley and Bantam Press (Random House UK, Transworld Publishers) in exchange for an honest review.  I’ve written the review as spoiler free as possible.

The Stranger Times is a very enjoyable and engrossing read. It has an excellent mix of personalities with good character development, a plot that moves at a good pace and it keeps you guessing with twists and turns along the way.  

It’s an intriguing story which opens with the protagonist, Hannah, down on her luck. Her dream interview has gone very badly wrong and now she’s faced with attending a back up interview she never intended to need and accordingly has done no preparation. 

First impressions aren’t great, she’s late and a man is threatening to throw himself out of a window above. He’s engaged in conversation with another man and it turns out the pair are two reporters for the Stranger Times.

The Stranger Times is very aptly named, everything about it appears strange or weird.  Or maybe both.  The paper is based in a former church and features a host of misfit characters which all seem to get along and create content for the newspaper and get it published on time.

Vincent is the editor, he’s loud, brash, old-fashioned and very difficult to work for; Ox and Reginald Fairfax the Third are reporters; The enigmatic teenager Stella; Manny who runs the press and lives in the basement; Simon who wants to be a reporter but isn’t allowed inside the building and Grace the office manager who holds it all together.     

I found myself questioning how The Stranger Times managed to keep going and this becomes apparent as the story develops.  The Stranger Times finds itself at the center of a story so out there that even it probably wouldn’t publish.  Moretti is a great character, particularly odious and despicable taking a greater role as the plot progresses, weaving occult and conspiracy threads.  I like how the plot manages to maintain a balance between these themes and maintain credibility, it’s a difficult balance to achieve.  The plot also has a rounded and balanced ending which ties all of the threads together really well.