Reviewed by Jackie Marchant
Cara has always been aware of the accident season. It happens every October and causes falls, injuries and even death – but only to Cara and her family. Her best friend Bea, despite being close to the family, always survives unscathed, but her ex-stepbrother, who is not a blood-relative, is prone. It is the month when their mother does everything she can to stop it – from extra rugs on the floor, padding every corner in the house, making Cara and her sister Alice wear coats and gloves no matter what the weather.
But Cara is seventeen and beginning to ask questions. What causes this month of danger, which ends at Halloween? Is there something more sinister going on? At the same time, she starts seeing shimmery unworldly figures that mirror her close group – herself, her sister Alice, her best friend Bea and her ex-stepbrother Sam. These alternative people seem to echo the concepts of the faery world Bea is so interested in, while having problems of their own regarding an evil step-father, who bears a striking resemblance to Sam’s long-gone father, who left after three years of marriage to Cara’s mother. Then there is Alice’s too-good-looking-to-be-true boyfriend and the October bruises that Cara realises weren’t accidents. Added to the mix is the mysterious Elsie, who has been at school with them all this time, yet no one seems to notice her, especially when she disappears.
These strands are all skilfully woven together in a mix of fantasy and reality, as the mystery deepens and the dangers become more real. At the same time, Cara has to deal with her feelings for Sam that don’t seem quite right, as well as Bea’s pulling away from her towards Alice. The tension increases as the story unfolds and hidden secrets come to the surface.
It’s a thrilling, fast-paced read, with well-drawn characters and many heart-in-your-mouth moments. It’s dark and mysterious, but ultimately a good, satisfying book. Perfect for fans of Frances Hardinge, I can highly recommend it.
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