Monday, 15 April 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different


One of my favourite author's just published a new book. You really should try it. Here's what I said on Amazon.



The most original writer around at the moment has done it again. When you thought that Caroline Smailes had gone as far as she could in developing new ideas with "99 Reasons Why", we now have a unique novel that is partly gritty drama, partly screenplay and wholly compelling.

In a run down seaside resort on the North Wales coast a couple of decades ago 14 year old Laurel gets an after school job in the decaying local Victorian swimming baths recently reopened as "The Oracle" by an odd trio of spiritual healers. She's a bright kid and the job is a welcome distraction from looking after her mum's ever expanding brood of kids from an ever expanding number of feckless fathers. 

In the present, sixteen year old Arthur Braxton, finds himself drawn to the same,now derelict, building as he escapes Facebook humiliation by his peers.

I don't want to spoil things for you by saying too much about what happens at The Oracle but there's a clue in the name and the novel develops into a magical mixture of myth and tragedy which I am sure is based on Greek mythology (but I have to hold my hands up to not being well read enough to know the source). In these passages the author takes us away from the grimness of the Welsh coast into a fantasy world fuelled by teen angst and filled with ghosts, spectres, ethereal music and ghastly experiences. And water - so much water.

I thought  of Meg Rosoff's surreal teenage deity in "There Is No Dog" when trying to think of a parallel to this book but Caroline Smailes' young characters inhabit a far darker, bleaker world and the novel is a powerful and chilling view of the difficulties of growing up and seeking love in deprived circumstances. 

Our local book club is reading "Gone Girl" this month. I can't think of much to say about that. Had we chosen "The Drowning Of Arthur Braxton", the discussions would go on into the small hours. It's that sort of book. Love it or hate it you won't have read anything like it.