Review – The Only Harmless Great Thing

Posted February 5, 2018 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke BolanderThe Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bollander

Received to review via Netgalley; publication date January 23rd 2018

I didn’t actually know much about this before picking it up: only that there was an elephant, and it somehow involved the Radium Girls. I loved the bits from the perspective of the elephants, the stories they tell: it might be a little much at length, but in little doses it was cleverly done, figuring out the way they’d think and communicate. I wasn’t in love with the modern-day plot of making the elephants glow (it seemed a little goofy to me as an idea, so I didn’t get into the character who suggested it), but the interaction between Topsy and the Radium Girl who trained her was poignant and fascinating.

Overall, it’s an interesting idea and there’s some definite gems in the writing, but I’m not sure how long it’ll stay with me. It didn’t quite come together for me, the three threads of narrative.

Rating: 3/5

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