When I first picked up The Accident Season, I had no idea what to expect.
Publicity shots of tarot cards ran with a blurb about a family beset by accidents. Was it going to be realistic? Fantastical? Horror? Magic Realism? Truth is, it was all and yet none of the above.
Narrated by Cara Morris, (the youngest daughter in a family comprised of eldest daughter Alice, her artist mother and step-brother Sam), The Accident Season is grounded in everyday reality, with a touch of magic seeping through. The Morris family each have secrets too difficult to share, and Cara in particular is haunted by the mysterious Elsie, a friend from her past who has inexplicably disappeared.
What distinguishes Fowley -Doyle’s writing is the level of detail attributed to each character – the family and their living arrangements are so well-described that you feel part – voyeur, part – friend of the family. The relationships are natural and unforced, and the dialogue flows comfortably . Bea’s amateur witchery, the tarot cards, the secrets booth, the ghost house – all the elements of the paranormal sit easily beside troubling issues (child abuse, murder, an abusive boyfriend , death of a child, abandonment) . When Cara discovers the abandoned ghost house whilst searching for Elsie, it seems the perfect spot for a themed Hallowe’en party. Her feelings for Sam are put to the test, and she discovers that there is more to her sister’s tempestuous relationship with th e handsome Nick than meets the eye. The police raid the party and in the aftermath, more secrets are revealed. The ensuing revelations shock the Morris family to the core, and forbidden love and unconventional relationships pale into insignificance by comparison.
I loved this book. It stands with Sarah Bannan’s Weightless and Courtney Summer’s All the Rage as one of the best YA books of the year. The narrative voice is perfect, the characters are fully fleshed out and believable, and the plot is full of suspense and intrigue. In style, it’s unconventional, different – realism, magic realism, psychological thriller, ghost story – as I mentioned above, it defies categorisation and is all the better for it. Perfect read for Autumnal nights – particularly around Hallowe’ en , it’s one of those books you almost regret finishing because you feel bereft afterwards.