I picked this book up a year ago, and I must confess to looking at the girl on the cover, with her black bunny rabbit, and I wanted to read it but I just didn’t put it in my bag. Which, honestly, is a failing on me as a reader. I get distracted before I pick up a book. Usually by other books.
So this week, I put it in my bag and I decided to read it. Properly too, not just in the bustle to and from work on the train, but with attention. I’m very glad I did.
Near paints such vivid, emotive pictures with her writing that it’s an experience to read them. Her characters are believable, despite any potential problems with a main character who see ghosts and fairies. A young adult book set in a modern times, it tells the story of Isola Wilde, the girl who sees magical creatures. On one of her many walks in the woods near her house, she stumbles across a dead girl in a birdcage, and that sets Isola in the path of a ghost who is definitely not like her faithful protectors, her brother-princes. Isola must uncover the truth of the girl’s demise, but will she succeed when the fierce love of her brother-princes is tested, and her real life friends struggle to understand what’s happening to her?
Near tells her story with a style that is much like her main character, different to what you expect at the outset. I will confess that I took a few short chapters to acclimatise, but I am so glad I did. The stylistic choices are wonderful, purposeful, and create a feel and flow to the story that winds the narrative together. There is no shortage of beautiful, and dark, imagery in the book, and the use of it provides depth and meaning to the events rather than distracting from them. I don’t want to talk too much about the formatting, but it’s a fantastic example of how knowing what you’re looking to achieve means you can bend the rules to get your point across. Near has a flair for language, and the use of formatting in her book adds to it in a way I struggle to explain. Every word she uses matters, and fits exactly where it should.
If you’re looking for a book that will make you think and feel, this is a good book to read. I may be relatively easy to get to cry, but Near handled the story with such delicacy and truthfulness I couldn’t do anything but weep. It was a wonderful, deep, cathartic kind of weeping which is exactly the kind I like in a book.
If you haven’t read the book, put it on the list regardless of your view on young adult fiction. This is a book that will sit with me, and I am glad to have read it so it can.