Publisher: Corgi Childrens.
Paperback, 288 pages.
Release date: July 2nd 2015.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Reviewed by: Arianne.
It's the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.
The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara's life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.
But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?
For fans of We Were Liars and The Sin Eater's Daughter, this is one book you’ll need to watch out for in 2015. Stylishly written, highly engaging and utterly captivating, The Accident Season heralds the arrival of one the most original and striking voices in YA fiction for decades.
Every October, seventeen-year-old Cara and her family – including her mother, older sister and ex-stepbrother - board up the windows, hide sharp implements and batten the hatches, because if something bad’s going to happen to them, it’s going to happen during the titular Accident Season. Throw in the mystery of a girl who shows up in all of their photographs, though nobody else seems to notice or even remember her, and The Accident Season sends chills down your spine from the very first page.
The Accident Season is a shifting, shadowy tale which seems to hover in the border between reality and fantasy. It reads with the ease of a labyrinthine Tumblr or an abandoned places Instagram; flowing, illustrative, and telling more story in a single page than some authors do in a lifetime. The plot is exquisitely constructed, and often raises more questions than it answers. It’s full of tarot cards, masquerade balls, fortune-telling, dreams, hallucinations and hazy, intoxicating magic. As its secrets are revealed, it will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about this surreal storytelling world.
Fowley-Doyle seizes her chance to make use of legends and folklore, but never overplays her hand; she breaks free from tradition as much as she draws on it, and I loved it. The book is set in Ireland, and it could have easily seemed too Irish or cliché (thank you, any writer who’s ever written an Irish stereotype, for leaving me unable to read about Irish characters without wondering if a hardy, handsome, gruff émigré or maybe a green-eyed half-leprechaun teenage boy is about to come strolling around the corner). Yet The Accident Season and all its settings are cleverly written, very natural and hugely relatable. In avoiding the usual pitfalls of an Irish-set book and always taking the brave choice, Fowley-Doyle’s true talent may even lie in the way she skilfully appeals to an international audience. Her prose springs to life and dares you to hold on; she writes fearlessly, brimming with intellect and vivacity.
The Accident Season is a quite a dark book, never far from themes of trauma and tragedy, so it’s not for younger readers (and I haven’t even mentioned the drinking, trespassing and truancy yet). For older YA readers, however, it’s a treasure trove; powerful, striking, and totally unnerving, it’s perfect if you’re looking for a very different kind of read to fill your summer with. For me, the only downside came with the characters. They’re well-drawn, but it’s difficult to connect with them in such a heady, ethereal atmosphere, and even more difficult to relate when so much of their decision-making is questionable at the very least. There’s a great LGBTQ+ storyline but unfortunately romance usually take a backseat to the spooky happenings of the plot. That said, when you’ve got so many mysteries to unravel, there’s always something to keep you reading.
In short: The Accident Season is an absolute diamond of a book. Beautiful, enchanting and just a little dangerous, it holds an almost mythical power over the reader, drawing you in until you can’t look away. Deliciously dark and utterly spellbinding, this is a shimmering and unmissable début.