Book reviews: The World of Poo | The Flame Alphabet | Every Day, Every Hour | The Road Not Taken

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A roundup of the latest books

The World Of Poo

by Terry Pratchett

Geoffrey is a young boy with a passion for poo, so when he is sent to stay with his surprisingly tolerant grand-mama in the big city of Ankh-Morpork, he starts collecting exhibits for a special museum.

As he collects bird, dog, hippo, wyvern and gargoyle droppings, he meets people who rely on waste to make a living, from lowly night soil men and aristocratic lavatory inventors to entrepreneurs who know that where there’s muck, there’s brass, and “white pearls” fetch a good price from the leather tanners.

Terry Pratchett’s hugely successful Discworld series has spawned a number of spin-offs, and there are many references to established characters. But grown-up fans, their young children and first-timers should all enjoy this scatological addition, which is filled with puns and snippets of unexpectedly fascinating information.

After all, who hasn’t wondered about how the world worked before plumbing?

Doubleday, £12.99

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus

Ben Marcus of Columbia University’s fourth work of fiction explores what happens to people’s relationships when communication fails, because in the novel, children’s speech becomes lethal to adults. Sam and Claire find it difficult to leave their daughter Esther as other people flee from their loved ones, leaving gangs of children ruling the streets, their speech deadly.

Sam desperately searches for a cure while becoming fascinated with the theories and misinformation surrounding the mysterious epidemic - but eventually faces a heart-breaking decision. It’s an engrossing story that is both an intelligent exploration of what is left of life when verbal communication breaks down, and a thrilling story about survival at all costs.

Granta, £16.99

Every day, Every hour by Natasa Dragnic

This international best-seller is the story of childhood friends Luka and Dora, otherwise inseparable until they’re torn apart suddenly. With each new chapter, their adult lives mirror each other, as Luka and Dora both achieve work success but relationship failure, as they realise they were always more than just friends and long for each other.

Years on the love-struck couple meet by chance and start an intense, desperate love affair. But when Luka’s past catches up with him, it threatens to destroy all that Luka and Dora have. Beautifully descriptive, the reader will long to step into Luka and Dora’s world, whether to wander around the Croatian seaside town or the streets of Paris.

Chatto & Windus, £12.99

The Road Not Taken: How Britain Narrowly Missed A Revolution by Frank McLyn

Renowned historian Frank McLynn takes a refreshing look at Britain’s relationship with revolution.

He investigates the seven times that Britain came closest to revolution, beginning with the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, then the Jack Cade rising of 1450, the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, the English Civil War of the 1640s, the Jacobite Rising of 1745-46, the Chartist Movement of 1838-50 and ending with the General Strike of 1926.

Rather than posit that revolution occurs exclusively because of human individuality, McLynn marries this with his investigations into the seismic shifts in the religious, economic and social orders that threatened and on many occasions made revolution seem almost inevitable, yet to no avail.

Bodley Head, £25