This is not a ghost story even though there are plenty of ghosts in it. And it's not a horror story though some people might be horrified. It's not a monster story either, even though there is a monster in it and that monster happens to be me.
Published by David Fickling Books/Random House in September 2013
304 pages in hardback – also available as an e-book
Summary condensed from Hive.co.uk and randomhouse.co.uk
Thirteen-year-old Rosa suffers from a rare condition that renders her mute. Forced to hide herself away from the superstitious island community of Mirasol, Rosa seeks solace online. There she meets Ansel95, and as the friendship moves from virtual to real, Rosa discovers that she's not the only one with something to hide. As Rosa's social life blossoms, how will she seize the freedom to be who she really is?
SHINE is the second book by the award-winning Candy Gourlay. Although it is quite distinct from Tall Story, it still has family relationships at the heart of it. There is also a fascinating sense of a culture refreshingly different from the standard Hollywoodesque High School set-up in many works for younger readers.
This is a facet of Candy’s work I find particularly appealing – how she blends a particular culture and its myths and legends to create an almost fable-like tale and all of it well-suited to a modern audience. In fact, I admit that I looked up Mirasol so convincing did I find the fictitious island!
Readers who enjoy experiencing a new setting through the eyes of someone unusual will get a real buzz from SHINE. The story involves prejudice and superstition – but never becomes an ‘issues’ book. The condition Rosa inherits– the Calm- as far as I can tell, is entirely made-up. Nonetheless, so well does it come across, you really feel for its sufferers.
This story also has two main distinct voices like Tall Story but would suit slightly older readers, I think. In SHINE, there is a time difference in their two tales and a powerful central mystery which is not solved until late in the book. There are some likeable and well-rounded characters [Yaya in particular], and a fair amount of peril and angst that they go through – both of which are nicely off-set by the humour in Rosa’s online relationship.
This story will suit a reasonably confident reader emotionally robust enough to appreciate an intense family thriller. If they also love an intriguing and well-realised contemporary setting, then they will thoroughly enjoy SHINE.