The Wonder Down Under
by Nina Brochmann and Ellen Stokken Dahl (read by Abigail Hardiman)
Yellow Kite

4/5 stars

You won’t be disappointed by this book – even if you bought it thinking it was about Australia (ahem). Written by a pair of Norwegian medical students, The Wonder Down Under aims to educate women about their vaginas “without even a whiff of shame”.

The authors acknowledge that they had fallen victim to myths surrounding the female sex organs, and that those about the hymen are the most persistent. Admittedly, this reader found little she didn’t already know, although the section on aesthetic labioplasty confirmed more public information is necessary about this “trend”.

One fascinating factoid concerned men’s external genitalia, which are much like women’s. No way? Read the bit about the scrotum and you’ll have a new ice breaker at parties. Charmaine Chan

The Hunger
by Alma Katsu (read by Kirsten Potter)
Random House Audiobooks

4/5 stars

Alma Katsu’s The Hunger is inspired by real events. In 1846, a band of pioneers trekked across America towards California. In Sierra Nevada, their wagons became trapped by a “bad winter”, and they turned to cannibalism.

Katsu turns the event into gothic, otherworldly fiction. We begin at the end, with the search party ploughing through chest-deep snow until they find: “A scattering of teeth. What looked like human vertebra.” Yikes. The dismal climax seems eerily fated: letters dropped by others warn “turn back or you will all die”; weird creatures pick off their weakest.

Kirsten Potter has a voice for historical horror. Her rich but lively tones are nicely suited to the pioneering period, and she knows when to slow the pace to linger over a spooky scene or the nightmarish climax. A book to keep you up at night. James Kidd