Book Review: Exiles by Victoria McNulty

Book Review - Exiles by Victoria McNulty Artwork

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this right from the author, who may hopefully be contributing to this site in the future as well. Exiles was published by Speculative Books in October 2020. Before we move on to my thoughts, I want to say a little about Victoria. She’s a writer, poet and spoken word performer based in Glasgow. She has contributed pieces to platforms such as Nutmeg, Bella Caledonia, Common Space and The Joe Strummer Foundation.

Exiles, first and foremost, is raw, it takes an unflinching look at the world through the lens of Glasgow in the aftermath of the Iraq war, it features a totalitarian undertone that would have made Orwell proud. Each section, each unique piece of work builds a narrative, while remaining impressive and powerful to read on their own, the word choice evocative and rich, nowhere near the clunkiness of my own attempt at similar works. Not sure if that’s technically a compliment but it was certainly meant to be anyway. It also had a familiar cadence and setting that helped me become invested in her writing. I felt even at her most poetic that Victoria writes first and foremost for people to read, it’s bold and clear, even when symbolic and non literal. Speaking of which, I loved the language, it made things so easy to picture, everything came across, none of it was too alien to grasp and I felt that drew me in as a reader. I also loved the variation in style and presentation, not only is this a fantastic way to keep the reader’s attention but also it makes it feel free flowing and organic.

I had planned to talk about specific pieces of the broader works in Exiles, talk about favourites, what did and didn’t work but if I’m being honest it was blown away by this, it was a tremendous collection that built upon one another and painted a rich tapestry, and did nothing wrong, in fact my only complaint is that I cannot go back and experience it again for the first time. Oh and that I missed out on hearing it performed live, it was so bold and encapsulated the feel of Glasgow, and love and fear, all the while building something unique and beautiful throughout. I can easily give this a 5/5, and recommend that you purchase it here.

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