Review Blog

Jul 03 2009

Creature of the night by Kate Thompson

cover image Bodley Head, 2008.
(Age 13+) Highly recommended. In this Bistro Award Honour book, Kate Thompson takes the reader on a journey through a desolate picture of reality for 14 year old Bobby in 21st century Ireland while adding a mystical touch of danger from the Little People. Bobby's mother takes him away from Dublin, where he has gotten into a gang of boys who delight in drinking, taking drugs, stealing cars and racing them in the suburbs. She hopes for a new start for him as well as for herself and her endless debts.
Bobby hates the country. He loathes the run down cottage that the family is living in and he doesn't want to reform at all. Offered some work from the Dooley family next door, he discovers that he can cope with that and learns that he has a flair for fixing mechanical. However the lure of the city life still entices him and he keeps trying to get back.
Meanwhile Dennis, his little brother, is convinced that he has made a new friend of a tiny woman who comes through the dog flap at night and talks to him. Bobby himself thinks that he has seen her turn into a badger and disappear down a hole. There is also the mystery of what happened to Lars, the former tenant of the cottage. His belongings are stuffed into a cupboard under the stairs and his Skoda is parked outside.Was there also a murder of a child in the cottage years ago?
Written in the first person, Bobby's voice is utterly convincing. Thompson pulls the reader into his life, describing how he loves the gang in Dublin and hates the way his young ineffectual mother is treating him. She juggles this reality with the parallel stories of Celtic superstition and Lars' disappearance in a very believable way.
The character development is quite striking as Bobby gradually learns things about himself and family that he hadn't understood before. A very touching moment is his realisation that his mother had him when she was 14. The Dooley family provides a warm contrast to his feckless family and the boys in Dublin.
Beautifully crafted and spilling over with emotion, this is a wonderful read that dragged me in from the first chapter.
Pat Pledger

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