NIGHT BEACHKirsty Eagar
Paranormal Young Adult
Penguin Books Australia
Available Now (limited release)
Received from author for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)Imagine there is someone you like so much that just thinking about them leaves you desperate and reckless. You crave them in a way that's not rational, not right, and you're becoming somebody you don't recognise, and certainly don't respect, but you don't even care.
And this person you like is unattainable. Except for one thing...
He lives downstairs.
Abbie has three obsessions. Art. The ocean. And Kane.
But since Kane's been back, he's changed. There's a darkness shadowing him that only Abbie can see. And it wants her in its world.
MY THOUGHTSNight Beach is a story of infinite complexity – easily inviting readers into a life riddled with emotional holes in the shape of a mother and a longtime crush, and enveloping us in a world we can practically touch while captivating us with a heroine whose every emotion reverberates through us. One of the joys of reading Ms. Eagar’s work is meeting her characters, young women and men who are so gloriously real the paper pages fall away and we find ourselves watching the lives of friends unfold before us, their problems often heartbreaking in a way that doesn’t necessarily inspire tears, but rather creates a soul-deep ache we feel more completely than we do salty drops on our cheeks. Night Beach is not quite as emotional as Raw Blue, but it has the same quiet intensity to it, tendrils of supernatural activity winding their way through an otherwise contemporary tale to create a lingering sense of unease, our minds forever questioning whether or not we believe what Abbie is seeing.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Ms. Eagar’s characters is the way they’re put together – small tidbits of who they are fed to us slowly, but so often vital slivers of information are merely hinted at, allowing us the opportunity to infer certain things about them so that we feel as though we’ve earned a piece of them for ourselves to hold close and treasure. The defining attributes of Abbie as a person are never simply told to us, instead we learn about her as we see her react to specific situations and people, her thoughts and actions beginning to paint a picture while still letting us fill in some of Abbie’s blanks with colors of our own. Abbie, like the rest of us, is a myriad of strengths and flaws melded together, her obsession with Kane something she recognizes as ultimately unhealthy, but yet something she craves nonetheless. Normally, as an outside observer, it would be easy for us to want to throttle Abbie for not seeing the situation clearly, but because we feel so connected to her, the tangled emotional mess Kane creates in her echoes through us, and we struggle as she does to separate what’s real, what’s wishful thinking, and what’s outside the realm of possibility.
Kane is highly enigmatic, someone who we desperately want to be the young man Abbie sees when she looks at him, but throughout the story she and we as readers are forced to open our eyes and really look at him, watching as the shape he holds in our minds alters and shifts for reasons both normal and paranormal. It’s the combination of normal and paranormal with regard to Kane that makes this story so eerily fascinating, forcing us to wonder which parts of him are the true Kane and which parts a result of something sinister and otherworldly, and Ms. Eagar dazzles us with her ability to beautifully blur everything about him to the point we’re not sure we’ll ever be able to solve the mystery of who he is. He’s fantasy and nightmare in one, seducing and haunting us at the same time with his tortured state until we’re convinced he’s nothing more than smoke and mirrors, disappearing through our fingers the minute we reach out to grab him.
Overall, Night Beach is another strong addition to Ms. Eagar’s already impressive resume, a slow story that bends reality’s parameters and tests our ability to believe in the rational explanation.