Stories are king in this darkly delightful tale from journalist David Whitehouse. His second novel (his first, Bed, was published in 2012), starts at the end.
Picador, €15.99; ebook, £5.99
On the cusp of adolescence, Bobby Nusku and single mother, Val, and her daughter, Rosa, are in a stolen mobile library, surrounded by police on a cliff edge.
Misfit Bobby has run away from his dad and her girlfriend. Val is a mother figure. Hiding from the police, the trio meet a tall, mysterious traveller, Joe, who has a wild temper, but who completes their makeshift family.
As they travel north in search of a crumbling Scottish mansion with a private zoo, which Joe remembers from his childhood, Bobby and Rosa read the library’s books and fantasy blurs with fiction.
Whitehouse eloquently evokes Bobby’s adolescent angst, but his fascination with stories is laboured. The book’s more violent scenes sit uncomfortably with the saccharin love-fest between the four main characters. Still, a tale that will haunt.
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