Review: Desiccation by Sarah Potter

Desiccation4 stars




For those who love retro fiction that’s a blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and quirky British humour reminiscent of old B-movies…

Perched on the clifftops at Helmstone-by-sea, English boarding school Toffdene exists in splendid isolation, pretending the Swinging Sixties aren’t happening outside its walls.

Janet is a science scholarship girl who believes that all paranormal phenomena have a rational explanation, until she meets a hippie pixie who lives in a dimensional transcendental toadstool.

In the dark of the old tunnel leading from the playing fields down to the beach comes the sound of scuttling plus the sliding, slippery susurrations of hostiles yearning for blood; whatever is living there will stop at nothing to survive.

Soon the teachers and pupils develop a hive mind determined to ensnare Janet in its collective consciousness. Furthermore, the head girl has started to stalk Janet in a sexually predatory manner, seemingly possessed by the delinquent mod fellow who’s been hanging about the school.

The hippie pixie might have cured Janet’s acne with a single kiss, but his claim that he can fix what’s wrong with everyone else by mending an interdimensional rift is quite another matter.



As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a B-movie buff and have been for years. I love sci-fi, absurdity and silliness – this book had it all! The cover first attracted me, I have many a DVD cover that looks similar and knew that this would would appeal to me in the same way. I don’t know what it is exactly but I just can’t get enough of this cover, it’s something about the bold colours and classic cheesy design that rocks my world so we have Jamie Noble Frier (awesome name or what?!) at http://www.TheNobleArtist.com to thank for that.
This book was reasonably short but as I’ve had a bit of a nightmarish week I’m disappointed that I had to finish it in a series of small chunks rather than just settling in one evening and working my way through in one go (no doubt I’ll re-read it in the next year or so when my trademark shocking memory has forgotten the plot so I can experience it for the first time all over again). The plot of this story was fast paced and really did read like a B-movie: it begins with our main character Janet arriving back at her boarding school after the holidays, she settles into her school routine and then things start getting a little bit weird. Her classmates start behaving oddly and there are some giant woodlice wandering about, as we can see from the front cover (giant woodlice. I LOVE this).
I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series when I was a little girl and this book has made me nostalgic enough to read them all over again. The tone and language of this book is very similar to the old boarding school novels, when girls go for walks through meadows to picnic on boiled eggs and sardines. It just happens that this boarding school includes mind altering aliens and some very odd sexual tendencies (ok, maybe not that odd. We’ve all heard the rumours).

Like this, but with aliens, swearing and hippies.

The characters in this book weren’t particularly deep or memorable, with the possible exception of Quillin the inter-dimensional pixie caretaker with a pechant for seducing schoolgirls. I found his character rather funny and compelling, with the ‘yeah, so what?’ attitude towards his being a pixie in a world under invasion by an alien race. That’s the thing I love the most about B-movies (what’s the book equivalent called?), that you have to accept the absurdities and move on if you’re going to get anywhere. The characters aren’t necessarily the focal point of the story, so much as the journey.
The ending of this book was very neat and satisfying, especially after all of the unexpected twists and turns it took to get there. The eccentricity and unpredictable story demanded a strong ending for it to be enjoyable and make sense, the author definitely delivered on that count!
This is absolutely the book for you if you’re a fan of ‘alternative’ sci-fi films, want a reminder of the old Enid Blyton novels with a twist or just want something different to read!

Sarah Potter is also a blogger and a delight to follow, so do have a nosy if you want to read about what she’s getting up to next!

5 comments on “Review: Desiccation by Sarah Potter

  1. Thank you, Nia, for the fab review here, plus on Amazon and Goodreads. Much appreciated.

    I’ve only just started plugging Desiccation as retro and likening it to a B-movie, so I’m glad you think it fits into that niche (or, as you say, whatever the book version of that niche is). I still haven’t quite decided if its main target audience should be today’s teenagers, or those adults who were teenagers in the 1960s. Probably the latter. Most people like Quillin the pixie best of the characters.

    I never read Mallory Towers, but was heavily into Enid Blyton’s adventure series. I did read St Trinian’s though, which was full of naughty schoolgirls.

    Of course, Jamie’s cover was meant as a tribute to Amazing Stories Magazines in the 1960s, as well as the supporting film movie posters at the time. I must send him a link to your review. He’ll be very pleased, as I already told him that you were buying the paperback as you loved his cover so much.

    I’ll reblog this review later in the week. Meanwhile, will tweet. Thanks again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome!

      I would aim it at adults- I reckon a lot of the references and themes would be wasted on a generation cheated out of B-movies! I found them by chance a few years ago when a friend gave me a copy of Mega Shark v Giant Octopus, then I started exploring the genre and havent looked back since!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Nia,

    Sarah just sent me a link to the review. Thanks so much for the kind words on the cover! Made me chuckle about my name too! Come find my art page on Facebook too, it’s where I blog a load of stuff I’m working on. (Sorry if you don’t want links in comments- I’ll remove if you need!) http://www.facebook.com/jamienobleartist


    Liked by 2 people

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