‘Scabby Queen’ is an superb bit of modern fiction and that I look forward to reading more of Innes’ work. Many thanks to 4th Estate for sending me a review copy through NetGalley. Similar to Innes’ Not The Booker Prize-winning Fishnet,’Scabby Queen’ increases a whole lot of complicated questions regarding a number of societal topics in a format that is engaging, using an ambitious political interval by the rise of Thatcherism through into the Scottish liberty and Brexit referendums. Clio’s passions, insecurities, hypocrisies and profound sense of justice have been formed by her youth against a history of miners strikes and a challenging relationship with her mum. The time she spent living in a Brixton squat using an undercover police officer enables Innes to examine how class, race and gender influence activism in various ways. Her bumpy career in the music business is especially well recorded in the bits of humor involving chapters that show that the thinly veiled sexism and ageism towards female musicians, so making the emotional outpouring on societal media after Clio’s passing even more hollow. Clio’s suicide is not a spoiler since it’s shown at the start of the novel when her body has been found by her friend Ruth. The narrative then jumps back and forth in time looking back in Clio’s lifetime with every part retold by means of a choice of individuals who understood Clio from quite different viewpoints.  The non-linear story is a little more confusing initially, but that I actually got into it from the second half since the glimpses of Clio’s life through the eyes of others slowly come together to show an upsetting character portrait of somebody who’s quite vulnerable in several ways supporting the outspoken public facade.  Scabby Queen from Kirstin Innes

I read that a confirmation copy of Scabby Queen from Kirstin Innes back in April, as it was initially due to be printed, but its launch date at the UK was pushed back to July because of the pandemic. It tells the story of Clio Campbell, a one-hit-wonder Scottish pop star and political activist who chooses her own life before she turns 51, some three years after a short period of fame as the singer of this anti-poll taxation anthem’Grow Up’.

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