Supernatural teen thrills
New Town Soul
Dermot Bolger (Little Island, €8.99)
Dermot Bolger's first novel for older teenagers, New Town Soul, has an interesting genesis. It was funded by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council as part of its 'Place and Identity' arts programme and a condition of the funding was that the novel had to be set in the area.
So this novel is firmly rooted in Blackrock, past and present, and the village itself plays a critical role in the narrative.
The novel moves confidently backwards and forwards in time -- from the opening scene in 1932, where a young boy, Thomas, is told about changelings and the goings on at the Hell Fire Club by his family GP, to 1993 and, finally, to contemporary Blackrock.
Throughout, it maintains the reader's interest. The shifting narration is deftly handled and the reader is slowly drip-fed information from the three main, and very distinct voices, heightening the suspense.
Joey is a nervous, music-loving teenager who lost his father -- a musician obsessed with being immortal 'like Kurt Cobain' -- when he was an infant. When he moves to a new school to escape bullying, he encounters Shane, a mouthy, cocksure orphan with a story-book past.
Everyone in the school, including Joey, instantly falls under Shane's spell, except for one class mate, Geraldine; because Shane and Geraldine have met before -- an event neither of them will ever forget.
Bolger carefully and cleverly unravels the truth about Shane's history, taking the reader on a compelling, moving and unsettling journey into the past and its ghosts. Soaked in atmosphere, it is a genuinely unnerving and spine-tingling read.
New Town Soul is the best supernatural teen novel since Kate Thompson's Creature Of The Night and is recommended for both adult and older teen readers.
Dermot Bolger will be talking about writing for teens at the Mountains to Sea Festival on Sunday, September 12. Further details are available at www.mountainstosea.ie.