REVIEW: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

As Midsummer approaches, the long, bright days of the season begin to tip towards autumn. Here to sing us beguilingly into the dark is Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s excellent debut novel, The Accident Season.

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Seventeen-year-old Cara and her family have been cursed by the accident season for as long as she can remember. Every year, at the end of October, the whole family become uncannily susceptible to illness and injury – but why? Is the accident season even real? And this year, the spookiness isn’t stopping with the accidents…

The Accident Season is my favourite kind of book: dark and strange, with high emotional stakes and compelling characters. YA fiction is particularly good at delivering what I want. While reading The Accident Season, I was reminded a lot of Alexia Casale’s The Bone Dragon, which also handles trauma with a touch of magic, as well as gorgeous, evocative prose. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (which I reviewed here) is another example of a spine chilling twist on what is at its heart a story of relationships. (Twisted ones.)

The Accident Season reads like a dream, if an unsettling one. The Irish river town setting feels ageless and yet contemporary, which just adds to the creepiness of the goings-on. The accident season is an endless, grey world of its own. Autumn, as all right-thinking people will already know, is the best season, and it is wonderfully evoked here. The story hums with the knowledge that Hallowe’en is when the boundaries between worlds are at their thinnest, and the everyday can become infused with dread. There are ghosts here. The psychological thriller aspects are played perfectly, and the whole book is a master class in “show, don’t tell” plot development, but that this is a ghost story is never forgotten.

Any story falls down without strong characters, but I loved this cast. Their complicated relationships are well explored, without letting the romances weigh down the story. Cara and Bea are winning and sweet as best friends, and I was over the moon about the LGBT relationship that is not shoehorned in, but springs organically from the characters involved.

The Accident Season is the epitome of a dark, beautiful thing. It is so lyrical and delicious that I swallowed it up in one sitting, and I can’t wait to reread it once I’m holding a physical copy in my hands. (It’s on preorder, of course.) It also has tarot cards and ukuleles and a masquerade ball. I was never going to be able to resist it.

This book has got to be a classic.

The Accident Season is out 2 July 2015 from Corgi Childrens. I received a copy via NetGalley from Penguin Random House UK Children’s in exchange for an honest review.

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