New Fiction: Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, €18.99
A year ago "something catastrophic" happened in the outside world, and the Arctic Circle research centre, where an aging scientist is working, was evacuated. Everybody left apart from him.
Augustine is a man "hard pressed to name someone he didn't despise", so solitude and isolation don't necessarily bother him.
Then he discovers eight-year-old Iris who's been "left behind like a forgotten piece of luggage". He assumes that somebody will come back for her, but nobody does.
Meanwhile, in another part of the universe a space crew on a two-year round trip to Jupiter is on its way home when, inexplicably, the ship loses contact with Earth.
In that closed, claustrophobic environment, tensions rise and tempers fray, and Sully and the rest of her crew struggle to keep emotions under control.
Good Morning, Midnight is strong on mood, whether it's the bleak, snowy outreaches of the Arctic or the surreal, sterile atmosphere on board the spaceship.
As with most split narratives, one doesn't always balance the other and it's fair to say that events out in space are much more compelling.
The twist ending is a little puzzling too, but that shouldn't detract from what remains a very intriguing debut from a very promising author.
Lily Brooks-Dalton (pictured) writes so beautifully that any plot flaws are easily forgiven.
Whatever she does next will be more than eagerly awaited.
Sunday Indo Living