Adult Fiction, Book reviews and recommendations

Spill Simmer Falter Wither

Author: Sara Baume

Genre: Adult Contemporary Fiction

Review: by Orla O’ Brien, Kildare Town Library


A misfit man finds a misfit dog. Ray, aged fifty-seven, ‘too old for starting over, too young for giving up’, and One Eye, a vicious little bugger, smaller than expected, a good ratter. Both are accustomed to being alone, unloved, outcast – but they quickly find in each other a strange companionship of sorts. As spring turns to summer, their relationship grows and intensifies, until a savage act forces them to abandon the precarious life they’d established, and take to the road. 

Spill Simmer Falter Wither is a wholly different kind of love story: a devastating portrait of loneliness, loss and friendship, and of the scars that are more than skin-deep. Written with tremendous empathy and insight, in lyrical language that surprises and delights, this is an extraordinary and heartbreaking debut by a major new talent.


From the very first sentence this book will take your breath away. The author reels you in with mesmerising, observant details and poetic, lyrical language. She has mastered her trade as a wordsmith churning out exquisite, authentic sentences on every page.  

We are introduced to the main character, Ray, who is odd, a loner and quite peculiar. We learn at fifty-seven he is ‘too old for starting over, too young for giving up.’ He finds kinship and solace in a rescue dog and names him One Eye. One Eye, just like his new owner, is an outcast and unwanted. As a recluse Ray has never had a companion before. 

Alienated, Ray has grown up feeling like a pariah. He has substituted human interaction for a love of reading. Sara Baume rouses sympathy and compassion by inviting us to look at life from Ray’s perspective. She meticulously describes how he is comfortable in his own company until the rats began to bother him.

He adopts One Eye on the premise he is a good ratter.  When he goes to the pound Ray is drawn to the dishevelled dog with the maggot nose and unkempt appearance. These two misfits find consolation in each other.  The reader becomes enamoured with Ray. Driving One Eye home Ray begins to talk loquaciously to him. He gushes about the beauty of nature around them and reveals his inner most thoughts.  

Life seems perfect for them. They are content in each other’s company. Their strong bond has been cathartic. They go for daily walks on the beach where One Eye releases his boundless, boisterous energy.  However, one day One Eye becomes over excited and does something that will change their lives forever.  

Sara Baume has an intricate way of tinkering with words. The reader becomes immersed, all the senses heightened, almost feeling there, with the characters on the beach in the whipping wind, experiencing the taste of the salty sea and the screech of the seagulls. Her polished words and attention to detail makes it an enjoyable, captivating read. 

 Available to borrow on Bolinda Borrowbox in ebook format.

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