I have always admired this author’s writing, and I am really pleased that this novel is now available on Amazon. I only occasionally read YA, but I really enjoyed this one.
Excellent! I was really impressed.
This novel combines lively action, humour, vivid descriptions and characterisation in an expertly woven creepy supernatural adventure alternated with prosaic high school life in a small Yorkshire town.
There is a curse on a house by Tinker’s Wood, and it must begin and end with a death.
When new neighbours move next door to the protagonist Daisy May and her mother, something re-activates it from its decades long sleep.
This is a spine chilling story, and a funny and a sad one. It’s full of action and vivid descriptions, tersely recounted. I was hooked from the moment I read of foul Mr Braithwate, and his habitual saluation to all – with two fingers.
The protagonist Daisy is a delight; unlike so many heroines,who leave all the wise cracking to the boys, she even retains her wicked sense of humour after she falls in love (I don’t think it’s writing a spoiler to say that she does that ) and retains her sense of identity, too. She’s tender and tough if a bit diffident. She comes from a one parent family, and they’re hard up, and she has to work to help out, but she doesn’t whinge.
Daisy has normal teenage concerns – whether or not to agree to her boyfriend, the school’s prize athlete Fred, taking things further: after all, she’s sixteen now and, they’ve been going out for a couple of years…
But she is dismayed to find herself unaccountably attracted to the new boy in town, Will Mckenzie, soon to become an object of fascination among her friend group. Daisy, who blames him for allowing her dog to be run over, is in a quandary about her mixed feelings over him.
This male lead, Will, is as lovable a hero as Daisy is a heroine – even when he turns Daisy’s life upside down,you have to love him. Daisy is puzzled as to how she comes to attract two of the most desired boys in the school; the reader sees it as evidence of her attractive personality.
The pace is quick, the characters real, the humour perfectly balances the grim happenings, and I found it – here’s a cliche – ‘A real page turner’.
The story begins with the body of the unpleasant Mr Braithwaite being taken from the house next door, where he has lived alone since the mysterious disappearance of his wife many years ago. This sets Daisy off on a new activity for her – ‘curtain twitching’.
She has never spied on him before, as: ‘He had nothing to show me except for his slow crawl into urine-scented senility. There was more entertainment to be had watching bananas slowly rotting in a fruit bowl.’
But then the McKenzies move in and Daisy becomes fascinated by what is going on in the house. What makes Will act so oddly when he is in his room, and why does he feel the need to avoid going home? How does all this tie in with the story her Grandfather tells her, of the disappearance of an encampment of gypsies from Tinker’s Wood at about the same time of Mrs Braithwaite’s disappearance?
Try it yourself. You won’t want to put it down (I didn’t, and sadly I’m no YA).
Finally, here are a few of my favourite quotes.
“Death to begin it.” The whisper tore my eyelids open and made me spin round with a gasp. It was so close I could have sworn I’d felt the whisperer’s breath tickle my ear. I stared hard into the blackness but there was nobody there. Nobody at all. I heard the fear in my own uneven breathing. The Braithwaite light surged again, flooding the lane with a brief light and sending the same shooting pain into my temple. “Death to end it.’
‘A gentle breeze made the trees whisper and sway, and patches of sunlight danced across the floor. Everything was tinged with spring green, even the sound nearby fields, the soothing song of the wood pigeon. And through the tree trunks were glimpses of the patchwork hills and chocolate-brown moors beyond the wood, stretching on and on.’
“I wish I had half of what you have,” Will continued. “My grandparents never bothered with me and my parents aren’t interested in anything I do.”
‘He’s a little bit hunched over, as if he has a heavy pack on his back that weighs him down. But all this new vulnerability only enhances his charm. Everyone wants to look after him and take away his hurt.’
‘I twisted round frantically, to see whose dreadful claws were clutching my waist, adrenaline using my veins as a Grand Prix circuit.’
‘He looked awful, the whites of his eyes shot through with red and his skin so pale. Like a dead boy.’