It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.
The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.
But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?
Haunting, dizzying, heady: These are the choice words I’d use to describe The Accident Season, Moira Fowley-Doyle’s debut young adult novel.
The Accident Season isn’t a particularly long book, but it feels longer because the writing is so rich. Fowley-Doyle’s style is very unique; blurring the boundaries of magic and reality, filling each sentence with layers of meaning and stuffing every page with sumptuous imagery. The writing matches the story perfectly – falling somewhere been whimsical and disconcerting. I adored the feeling of otherness that jumping into this book gave me, but the description-heavy style will undoubtedly be one that divides the masses. Like a Jandy Nelson book, it’s definitely a love or hate kind of thing.
Every year, Cara and her family fall prey to ‘the accident season’ –a month plagued by a variety of bumps, falls, trips, and slips and occasionally; something far more serious. They don’t know why it happens, how it happens or if it’ll ever stop. They just wrap themselves and the house in layers and try to not to do anything too stupid.
The book blends together a lot of different elements to create something totally unique. Mystery, haunted houses, family secrets and forbidden romance; it’s all here. It’s kind of like McDonald’s (stick with me here) in the sense that you know they’ll have at least one thing on the menu that even your fussiest friend will eat. There’s something for everyone here, whether your bag is family drama and contemporary stories about friendships, or books with a touch of mystery and elements of the paranormal.
Cara, her step-brother Sam, her sister Alice and her witch-y best friend Bea make a quartet to be reckoned with. Fowley-Doyle has created characters full of contradiction and vulnerability, each of whom are trying protect secrets and feelings of their own with varying degrees of success. Whilst the story flirts with the magical, the relationships between the friends still feel very real, which kept the plot from dissolving into total bedlam. They kind of reminded me of a British version of the liars in E. Lockhart’s hit YA novel We Were Liars, only more likeable.
I was so wrapped up in trying to figure out the oddities surrounding Cara and her family that before I knew it I’d turned the final page. Fowley-Doyle draws explanations from the fog slowly, ratcheting up the tension and divulging just enough information in every chapter to keep you up way past your bedtime. As the plot finally unravels in a mess of long forgotten memories and buried secrets, it’s impossible not to be shocked. It’s best to go into this book with a completely open mind, so whilst I won’t give anything away, I will say that the ending isn’t disappointing even if you begin to slot the pieces into place.
Some will accuse this book of trying to be too clever for its own good, but I would disagree. No, this isn’t a simple book and yes, there is a lot of metaphor and strange imagery. Some will dig it, some won’t. But why should this be a simple book when it’s not tackling simple issues? The secrets that plague the family aren’t easy; they’re jagged and murky. I still don’t think I quite understand everything that happened, but to me, that’s where the beauty lies. I could pick it up right now, flick through a couple of characters and come away with a new insight or a different impression. This is a seductive book and the openness to interpretation makes it all the more beguiling.
- Author: Moira Fowley-Doyle
- Publication Date: 18th August 2015
- Publisher: Corgi Books
- Pages: 218
- Rating: 4/5
- In short: A dizzying, dramatic, daring debut.