Stylistically similar to Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, the characters in Jules Grant’s debut novel do not only speak in dialect, they narrate in it too. Set in Manchester’s seedy crime underworld, We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Flames follows the story of lesbian criminal Donna and her goddaughter Aurora. It’s a common case of warring gangs, drugs, gun crime and murder, but uniquely it’s presented from a distinctly female gaze, and although it’s unflinching in its gritty portrayal of Manchester, there are funny moments and tender passages that take the reader by surprise. The author has created brilliantly layered characters, especially in the hard-bitten Donna and the 10-year-old goddaughter left in her care. By alternating chapters between the two, the plot has different perspectives on events that unfold at breakneck speed. It’s a skilfully written story and impossible to put down, especially during tense confrontations. While it’s certainly a fast-moving crime thriller, for those unfamiliar with Mancunian slang, the language can sometimes feel undecipherable. Grant’s book has its fair share of violence and vengeance, but it’s also a heartbreaking and tender read about love and the relationships that tie us together.
By Alison Potter