For readers looking for a “relatable” tale of struggle and survival – the author includes an encouraging note at the end for those fighting their own darkness – the book offers consolation. For those wishing to derive more literary pleasures, Starling Days may disappoint.
Very occasionally, Buchanan’s observational inventiveness gets the better of her: she describes a hipster café carefully but then marginally overdoes it by comparing the size of two men’s beards to small dogs. But this really is nitpicking over writing which is startlingly original without — on the whole — drawing attention to its originality. Starling Days also offers scenes of sex between two women which don’t titillate, worryingly but importantly pointing up how rare this is.