Book Review: Scott Wilbanks's The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster*, Or, The Time Megan Cried Too Much

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*I was fortunate to receive an eARC of this book via NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, thank you!*

It's happened again: I'm in love with a book. I laughed, I cried, I suffered a major book hangover, I tweeted Scott Wilbanks telling him how much I cried, and then I cried some more.

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster is, unsurprisingly, about Annie Aster, a young woman who loves turn-of-the-century clothing (think lace, big skirts, and parasols), and her friend Christian. One day she looks out of her door and finds a 1890s Kansas wheat field in her San Francisco back garden. And then she starts to receive letters in the postbox at the bottom of her garden from Elsbeth, the owner of said wheat field, dated May 1985. Of course, hijinks ensue, including magic shows, secret doorways, murder, missing babies, library books, explosions, memory loss, coffee, and nosebleeds. It's a hell of a ride.

From the very beginning of Lemoncholy Life, I was taken by how well the science fiction element of time travel used in this book was so well integrated with a 'non sci-fi' setting and story. Only really being used to harder science fiction with spaceships, aliens, and highly-technological utopian societies, this was really refreshing for me to see. The characters are smart about time travel and do their research rather than just diving into things. See: every mainstream time travel film ever.

The story that unfolds in this book had me hooked after the first few chapters, with a mystery that takes the entire duration to unfold. There are so many twists and turns, I'd be fascinated to know how Wilbanks managed to keep it all so organised whilst writing. I was amazed by the depth it went into and how unpredictable it ended up being. Think of it as time travel murder mystery. It also reminded me a lot of the Sally Lockhart books by Philip Pullman, which I adored when I was younger. 

I would recommend Lemoncholy Life to anybody who loves a good murder mystery, or wants to get into time travel writing without heavily scientific language weighing the narrative down. Watch this space, as there will be a very exciting Lemoncholy Life post coming in the next few weeks, with a lot more details on the inspirations behind it! The book was released on August 1st, so is available now!

M x

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