Winner of a Northern Writers’ Award
Longlisted in The Bath Novel Award
Longlisted in The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize
What if reading the wrong book could get you arrested?
In a decaying city controlled by the First General and his army, expressing the wrong opinion can have terrible consequences. Clara Winter knows this better than anyone. When she was a child, her father was taken by the Authorisation Bureau for the crime of teaching banned books to his students. She is still haunted by his disappearance.
Now Clara teaches at the same university, determined to rebel against the regime that cost her family so much – and her weapons are the banned books her father left behind. But she has started something dangerous, something that brings her to the attention of the Authorisation Bureau and its most feared interrogator, Major Jackson. The same man who arrested Clara’s father.
Will she be the next one to disappear?
Major Jackson is obsessed with the wife of his latest detainee. He’ll do anything to possess her, even if that means destroying her husband and daughter completely.
But as their relationship deepens, their lives become entwined in a toxic combination of love, fear and regret that threatens to ruin them both.
Told from the perspective of two characters on opposing sides of the regime, this is a story about what happens when our rights are stripped away, when we don’t have freedom to speak or to follow our dreams. When democracy is replaced with something more sinister and society begins to forget what came before.