The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

The Nostalgic Book Review Tag (Light Boxes by Shane Jones)

on October 12, 2015

Thank you to Jenna at Reading with Jenna and Deanna at A Novel Glimpse for nominating me to do The Nostalgic Book Review tag (and sorry it has taken me so long to respond to this one!)

Please do check out both of their lovely blogs – definitely worth a read!

The Nostalgic Book Review Tag was created by CW at Read Think Ponder (another fantastic blog!), and the rules for this challenge are as follows:

Choose a book you read over 3 years ago and review it from memory without looking up a summary of it.

Summary: Provide a summary of the book (without cheating by using Google or the back cover!)

Thoughts: From memory, share your thoughts and feelings about the book when you first read it.

Epilogue: Look up a summary of the book and share your thoughts on what you remembered/didn’t remember so well, and your current thoughts/feeling about the book.

My Review:


The book I’ve chosen to review is Light Boxes by Shane Jones (Hamish Hamilton, June 2010)


Even though Light Boxes is the tiniest and shortest book on my shelf, I read it about 4 years ago, and I also have the memory of a goldfish hitting its head against a glass bowl repeatedly, so as such I can’t remember the full plot of this book.

What I do remember is that the main character’s name is Thaddeus, and he lives in a town where it has been February for as long as anyone can remember, and this never-ending February is relentlessly cold and bleak. In Thaddeus’ town, there has also been a ban on all forms of flight and references to things that can fly in books – paper planes, kites, hot air balloons… even the birds have started dying in the snow. However, Thaddeus, his family, and the other townspeople have started to secretly rebel against the flight ban, painting balloons on the palms of their hands, on secret patches of wall inside their homes, on the bottom of tea cups, etc.

There is a second thread to this story, which follows a man named February, who lives on the outskirts of the town with a woman referred to as ‘the girl who smells of honey and smoke’. February is clearly unhappy, possibly suffering from some form of depression, and his relationship with this woman is the only thing keeping him going. There’s a big twist in the tale involving these characters, so I don’t think I can say too much more without getting spoilery.

My thoughts:

This was a strange, creepy, unique and beautiful little book. It reads like a surreal fairytale, with a postmodern twist (which I can’t reveal because it will spoil the ending, but I do genuinely remember, I promise!) I would describe the way this book is written as broken poetic verse, but I’m not sure if that makes any sense. The words are interestingly laid out on the page, and the position of lines, as well as font style and size, is in constant fluctuation depending on the mood of the scene. Some people might find this pretentious, but I thought it worked very well here, and the story is engaging, so it’s not at all a case of style over substance.

Overall, it’s one of the most unusual stories I’ve ever read, and it’s beautifully formatted, with bizarre, slightly sinister illustrations throughout.  It’s a treasure – one of the prettiest books I own.

The Epilogue:

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

“February is persecuting the townspeople. It has been winter for more than three hundred days. All forms of flight are banned and the children have started to disappear, taken from their beds in the middle of the night. The priests hang ominous sheets of parchment on the trees, signed ‘February’. And somewhere on the outskirts of the town lives February himself, with the girl who smells of honey and smoke…

In short bursts of intensely poetic language, this beautifully strange and otherworldly first novel tells the story of the people in the town and their efforts to combat the mysterious spectre of February. Steeped in visual imagery, this is a hauntingly enigmatic modern fairy tale – in which nothing is as it seems.”

So, I remembered mostly correctly, although I’d completely forgotten about the children being abducted in the night, which adds a whole new layer of creepy! I also neglected to mention that February is the one causing the never-ending winter, as I was worried I’d be giving too many spoilers away. However, it looks like that one’s given outright on the back cover anyway! At least the big twist remains unrevealed.

Something I apparently made up was the sinister illustrations! I just flipped through the book, and there are no illustrations at all. I think I’ll attribute these false memories to the fact that the imagery in this book is so vivid – the kind that sticks in your mind 4 years after reading.

I loved Light Boxes, and this tag has inspired me to re-read it. If you’re planning on reading this lovely little book too, I’d recommend getting the hardback version, and not the e-book edition, as I don’t think the formatting would work so well on an e-reader.

I tag the following people:

Sumaya @ suesreadingcorner
Maria @ marwhalreads
Charley @ booksandbakes
Amy @ curiouserandcuriouser
Sanchita @ abookesia

…  and anybody else who fancies getting nostalgic in their next post!

Has anyone else read Light Boxes? What did you think of it?


3 responses to “The Nostalgic Book Review Tag (Light Boxes by Shane Jones)

  1. This sounds like an amazing book! I’ve never heard of it but it sounds like something I’ll absolutely love! Plus I love books that are written in free verse, so I’m excited to get my hands on another one!

  2. […] Light Boxes by Shane Jones – Jess from Mud and Stars […]

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