Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Creature of the Night

Author: Kate Thompson
Publisher: Definitions
RRP: £6.99

  Aimed at teen readers this is the story of Bobby who is forced to move from Dublin by his mother to the countryside to avoid debt collectors and to stop Bobby getting into even more trouble.  At only fourteen Bobby was part of a gang who would cause mayhem on the streets of Dublin, robbing people, stealing and burning cars and getting stoned.  He is convinced that life in the countryside is not for him despite finding the farm equipment quite fun and tries at all costs to return to his old friends.  But they've moved on, things aren't the same and when he lands one of his so-called friends in prison the rest turn their back on him.  Life too in the countryside turns pear-shaped when his little brother starts to talk about a tiny old lady who visits at night through the dog-flap, convinced she's a fairy.  Things get more bizarre culminating in the discovery of a gruesome murder.

  This isn't a light-hearted story by any means.  It follows the journey of a troubled family in a difficult time in their life but as a reader you feel great empathy towards the characters; you feel the loneliness of Bobby and sympathise with his young mother.  As the book progresses you learn that Bobby's mother was only fourteen herself when she had him, the age he is now and he begins to realise the struggles she must have had trying to raise him.  He is baffled by the trust people in the country put in him and although he keeps letting them down they don't give up on him, a lovely sentiment although unfortunately quite unrealistic.

  This is a book of two stories; one about the transformation in the life of Bobby, righting his wrongs and learning new skills, the other about the dark superstitions of the countryside.  I don't believe the two halves have been gelled successfully.  To me it feels as though both halves have not been finished.  The murder remains a mystery and in the epilogue we whizz to the future and find out he becomes a mechanic when a page previously he was still stealing money from his family.  Personally I think this should exist as two entirely separate books, I don't feel that the stories compliment each other or add any depth.  I also think the book will date terribly, lots of cultural references and slang that will probably be appealing to youths now will quickly become outdated.  

Rating: 5/10


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