TITLE: The Cuckoo’s Calling
AUTHOR: Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)
SERIES? “Cormoran Strike” series book 1/?
GENRE/ AGE RANGE: Mystery, Adult
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Death, injury, relationship cheating, past trauma, fighting in war, murder, talk of suicide, talk of homelessness, sexism, drug use, racism
PUBLICATION DATE: April 18th, 2013
Character Guide ⇩
►Cormoran Strike → Main character, Private investigator, 35 years old, in debt, prosthetic leg (right leg), ex-soldier, dishevelled, neglectful parents,
►Robin Elacott → Secretary, from Yorkshire, pretty, tall
►Lula Landry → Murder victim, biracial, poc, bipolar, adopted
►Eric Wardle → Detective Sargent, boyish, good looking, young, brown hair, married
►John Bristo → Lula Landry’s adopted brother
►Evan Duffield → Lula’s ex-boyfriend
►Matthew Cunliffe → Robin’s fiancé
►Deeby Mac → Famous rapper
►Guy Somé → Clothing designer
►Charlotte Campbell → Stike’s ex-fiancé
“When you are young, and beautiful, you can be very cruel.”
Hey guys, today I’m coming at you with my review of The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka. J. K. Rowling. I intend to eventually review all the books in this series, but not for a while. But, recently I watched the show for the first time and really really enjoyed it, so I decided to re-read (or rather, re-listen) to the first book and see how they compare! Spoiler alert: they both feel totally different! I think it’s safe to say that most of the issues I had with the book were taken out of the show and that’s why I enjoyed watching so much more than I did reading this story! I recommend trying both formats, and seeing which you prefer, but definitely, don’t go in expecting them both to be the same in tone & general writing/script style!
THIS BOOK HAD SO MANY PROBLEMS!?!?
I have three really big problems with this book and interestingly these are not problems I have had with J K Rowlings other books that I’ve read (aka. Harry Potter).
The writing seems to be the main reason people don’t enjoy the book (or the whole series, for that matter). There are slow and weirdly harsh and unforgiving descriptions that take up most of the page time and these descriptions that really impact how you read the story and perceive everything the characters are seeing. Rowling uses a really disruptive writing style that often took me out of the story because it just constantly felt over the top. I’m not saying this because I was expecting the same writing she had in her MG/YA series, but because this book felt overly dark, like there wasn’t allowed to be one skerrick of happiness or light in this story or for these characters, and that’s something I really hope will change or develop in later books because I think you can only have so much unforgiving darkness before people just stop reading.
The writing style and harsh descriptions make the story feel longer than it actually is and really impacted how long it took me to read the book, especially since I have read this before and had just finished watching the show. I also don’t think this writing style really helps the genre of the book either. It never helps if a mystery/crime novel feels like it’s taking a million years or like it’s going nowhere. I definitely recommend trying the first chapter instore before you buy it, or listening to a sample of the audiobook because the writing style is quite intense and you’re either going to get used to it &/or enjoy it OR you’ll really hate it.
- Harsh descriptions, Unforgiving writing style:
Some seriously harsh descriptions of women → “a rake with two tangerines attached”. Honestly, half the time women (and sometimes men) were being described I felt pretty damn uncomfortable, everything about this book was unflattering. I know that at the time this came out, no one knew this was JK but damn, she’s REALLY trying to let us know that SHE IS IN NO WAY A WOMAN OKAY?
2-It’s a mystery with an obvious villain but no clues
On that note, it also doesn’t help that we weren’t given that many clues throughout the book to solve the mystery ourselves, everything was just sort of explained at the end by Strike. I can’t remember if this happens in the next books, but I really hope Rowling changes up how she writes the mystery. I like being able to go back and spot clues and felt like we aren’t really able to do that in this book, everything is monologued to us in the last chapter and we don’t have any other choice but to accept it.
- I actually didn’t remember how Robin and Strike met so going back and re-reading this was SO weird. I won’t spoil it here but it feels inappropriate even though it’s technically innocent and no body’s fault. It’s still weird and uncomfortable and I’m glad they changed it for the show because it was just really unnecessary.
- The writing is slow and detailed but if you listen via the audiobook it goes by a lot faster.
- The unapologetic writing & characters can make reading uncomfortable, especially the descriptions of women!
“The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind, and through the signs they left scattered behind them.”
Another thing I would like to add is that this book, adding to all the things that were unnecessary but added anyway, for shock value, I don’t know, were the horrible and very present racist and sxist themes that hung over the entire book! Wow! Fun! Just what the doctor ordered!
Here’s a fun example, that was definitely not needed, coming from a rich white woman:
“I didn’t know blacks could swim”
Why was this in the book at all you may ask. Well, to be honest with you, I don’t know. It didn’t do anything for the plot or tell us anything we didn’t already know about the character, JK just likes to throw these little gems around every now and then. Because they’re totally necessary and make this book a lot of fun to read. ugh.
Honestly, if I hadn’t read this before, seen the show and I didn’t intend to review the rest of the series eventually, I don’t know that I would have finished this. It just felt wrong coming back to this story after having seen it done so much better on-screen. I am definitely interested to see if JK learned from her mistakes and improved in book 2, or if it’s a dumpster fire. I guess we’ll see!