My Review of A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by Mark Barry #TuesdayBookBlog

A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice by [Barry, Mark]


Book Description:

“I swore that I would never go home, 
but in the end, I had no choice. 
I had to confront what happened. 
And them too. 
It was going be icky. And totally scary.”

Carol Prentice left Wheatley Fields to attend university in Manchester and not once did she return in four years. Her beloved father visited her whenever he could, but then he passed away and it was up to her to sort his affairs. 

She could have done this from a distance, but a woman can run to the far corners of the earth, but, in the end, she can never escape herself

She had to come home: There was no other choice.

Taking a job at a bookshop for the duration, she befriends Steve – an older man who looks like a wizard and who knows everything in the world. 

Carol quickly encounters the demons that forced her to leave in the first place – including Toby, the raffish local villain, with whom she shares the most horrifying of secrets and whose very existence means evil and mayhem for everyone around. Especially the lovable Steve. 

Carol finds herself in the middle of a war between the two men: 
A war which can only have one victor. 

Soon, she wishes she had never come home. 
But by then it was too late. 
Much too late.

My Review:

I‘ve had A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice on my TBR list for ages but other books kept pushing it further down the pile. What a mistake! I was hooked from the word go (something to do with the fact that the protagonist was wearing a ‘satanic wedding dress, with layers and layers of blue and black lace – with Doc Martins’ ) Brilliant! I so wanted to dress as a Goth when I was younger and never had the courage.

 Anyway, enough; this is about Mark Barry’s powerful story of,  revenge, conflicting love, heartbreak, great friendship, empathy and strong characters.

 This is yet another book that I read while ‘doing domestic trivia’  (though cooking a meal can be a problem – ironing while reading is easy-peasy) I read this book in one session.

I don’t give away spoilers in my reviews and it would be too easy with this book. And, anyway, I think the book blurb says enough

The characters are multi-layered, rounded characters and, for me, are either loved or hated in equal measure (hated Toby Gifford and his mates with a vengeance, loved Carol and Steve.)

 The dialogue is so suited to all the characters, though initially I found Carol’s habit of interspersing her language with ‘like’ a little irritating I soon got used to it; it fits her personality. Fascinating internal dialogue from Carol as well; I always had  a slight unnerving feeling she could be an unreliable narrator but she won me over time and time again. And I love the interaction between her and Steve, it so emphasises the growing and enduring unusual friendship.

It’s an intriguing plot that caught me unawares in places. And I loved that, even though I was in no doubt Carol would triumph in the end, there were a few ‘wobbly’ moments… and, sadly, one casualty. I’m saying no more!

And great to see a male author write from  the perspective from a female protagonist. I can’t remember when I read another book with that angle.

This is a book I could read again and enjoy just as much. Without any doubt whatsoever I recommend A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice to all readers.

Loved the cover by the way.

Buying Links: (Go on, you know you want to);

About the Author:

Mark Barry


Mark Barry is a multi-genre contemporary fiction writer who lives in Nottinghamshire, in Great Britain. He writes extraordinary stories about ordinary people. 

Two of his books have been best sellers in their time and his most recent, A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice, has attracted rave reviews from everyone who has read it.

He has one son, one tattoo (on his chest), loves horse racing, rock music, and fanatically supports Notts County football club.


Rosie's Book Review team 1

My review of   Carla by Mark Barry

 My rating 4.5 out 0f 5 stars 

Product Details

I found this a difficult read. Not because the writing was poor, to the contrary; it is excellent in many ways, but because I found the story both compulsive yet disturbing.

Usually, when reading a book to review I read it twice, once just to take in the story and again to discover what works for me. I try to avoid spoilers, saying only if the different components of the story, the characters, the dialogue, the setting etc., work as far as I’m concerned, and why.

But Carla is problematic for me. Mark Barry really gets into the mind of John Dexter, a middle-aged man who struggles with the knowledge of who and what he is; a man with a severe personality disorder who has lived most of his life either in mental health care or in prison. Yet who has, in a way, been cushioned from the realities of the outside world by the wealth of his father.  The challenge when reading the book is that it is a monologue and everything, therefore, is seen and related through the eyes of the protagonist, who is, to say the least, an unreliable narrator. There is no room for the reader to try, or even want, to envisage the setting, the action, in any other way than how he tells us.

The tone of the dialogue is conversational, even casual as John relates the stories of his past actions, and of events he was involved in, directly to the reader, many of which are chilling and disconcerting. And this sinister foundation of his life, and his self-knowledge, is reinforced, I think, by the short terse sentences that break up the longer narrative, especially with the juxtaposition of the internal dialogue where we learn of the chaos of his emotions and thought processes; his history of recurring thoughts of suicide. There are two sentences that particularly stood out for me. “ Borderlines like me? Way too much emotion.”. Says it all!

But the strange thing is that, as the reader, I emphasised with this character even whilst being repelled by him.

The title of the book, Carla, is taken from the character with whom the protagonist is obsessed and it is this fixation on Carla, a young, pretty woman, that is the pivot around which the plot and the decline of  John Dexter revolves. Yet it is with her, within this situation, that the protagonist discovers that he can relate to someone else; can empathise,can  truly care. Perhaps this could have been his redemption. Perhaps …

The foreshadowing of the inevitable result is drip fed throughout the story. The denouement however, was a shock.

And it is at this point that I’ll leave it. Suffice it to say, I think Mark Barry is a good author and  I would like  to recommend this book.