The Accident Season
By Moira Fowley-Doyle
Published by Corgi
ISBN 978 0 552 57 130 2
Little accidents happen to us all. Usually, there is no harm done: we patch ourselves up, shake ourselves down and get back on with life.
But for Cara, things aren't as simple as that. For as long as she can remember, Cara's family has experienced a surge of injury-causing accidents every October. Bones get broken, flesh gets bruised, fingers get cut.
There have even been accidental deaths in the family at this time of year: both Cara's father and Uncle Seth fell victim to what her mum calls "the family curse". So now Mum, Cara, her elder sister Alice and her step-brother Sam have a strategy for dealing with the month of October. Sharp edges are padded with cushions, everyone wears thick layers of clothing in case of falls, and knives are locked away.
Mum has turned the month of October into a time of obsession and fear for her three teenage children. The injuries surely cannot be mere chance; someone in the family is always affected no matter the precautions they take. Is this year going to be like all the others?
Moira Fowley-Doyle has come up with an original concept to build momentum and suspense in her debut young-adult novel, The Accident Season. Cara is a memorable narrator and protagonist, and it's easy to relate to her and get caught up in her story.
Fowley-Doyle's realistic approach to presenting her central teenage characters is very different from the sugar-coated characters some writers give us: her characters are presented warts and all, and so feel far more like "real" people.
As the "accident season" draws closer, another mystery starts to worry Cara. She used to be friends with a girl called Elsie but the two of them have drifted apart, and have little or no contact now. But recently, without any logical explanation, Elsie has started showing up mysteriously in the corners of the photos Cara takes on her phone.
Cara can't remember Elsie being around when the photos were taken. And nobody else seems to remember Elsie at all. When she finds a doll in Elsie's likeness thrown on a path at the side of a stream, Cara begins to wonder if there is some link between Elsie and the accident season.
Fowley-Doyle gives us a grim but compelling scenario for her debut novel. It is creepy and different, although its sometimes disturbing scenes make it best for older teens.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com