Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Into The Grey by Celine Kiernan

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We were watching telly the night Nan burnt the house down.  It was March 1974, and I was fifteen years of age.  I thought I lost everything in that fire, but what did I know about loss? Nothing, that’s what.  I would learn soon enough.
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Published by Walker in July 2013
304 pages
Book Summary
After their nan accidentally burns the family home down, twin brothers Patrick and Dominick move with their parents and baby sister to a small cottage by the sea. The family has spent many a happy summer there but never a winter – and against a backdrop of howling storms and wild seas, the haunting of the twins begins... 
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Reviewed by Caroline Hodges
 
This is a great little book.  I’ve not read any of Celine Kiernan’s other books but after reading Into the Grey, I’d definitely be interested to read more of her work.  
I’m not sure what I was expecting from Into the Grey - it didn’t let me think much on that, whisking me immediately into Patrick’s story and capturing my interest right through to the end.  I think what most surprised me was just how creeped out I got when I first started reading this alone one evening.  Being written from the first person perspective in particular makes you as the reader feel every spike of fear Patrick does as he wakes in the night to hear his twin brother talking with a ‘goblin’ on the top bunk.   
The way Kiernan captures the atmosphere of the quiet seaside town in winter serves as a perfect back-drop to the haunting going on in Patrick’s new home.   Likewise, the 70’s Ireland setting removes the reader just enough from their comfortable reality to feel as much a stranger in this new setting as Patrick and Dom do.
I have to admit, I found the peak of the drama a little confusing and there didn’t really seem to be enough tying-up of lose ends for me – what IS ‘the Grey’?  Why did the ghostly boy get stuck there whilst other people pass on?  I feel like the ending needed some more work.  
But nonetheless, the book deserves attention.  The characterisation is fantastic - particularly Patrick who takes us through all the emotions of a 15 year old boy, especially the petty ones, but ultimately shows profound determination and love for his brother.  There’s an honesty to the writing which is very touching, for example when Patrick’s mother confesses to ‘hating’ her mother in law after the fire.  There’s something refreshing about seeing characters with as many flaws as good traits.
I also found the role of Patrick’s grandmother interesting.  She suffers from dementia, but as is often the case with this disease, when she is reminded of the past, she is at her most rational and helps to shed light on the past of the ghostly apparition.
I really enjoyed Into the Grey – it’s an excellent mix of horror, heartbreak and family love which you wouldn’t necessarily think would fit together.  Be sure to read it under the covers

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't heard of this before but I love the premise and the fact that it's set in 70s Ireland. Great review!

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