Irish fantasist Kiernan (The Poison Throne, 2010, etc.) explores the dynamics of love and loss.
In 1974, 15-year-old identical twins Pat and Dom move with their family into a drab summer cottage after their senile grandmother inadvertently burns down their house. Nerves still raw from the disruption of their lives and the loss of their home, the twins start to have strange dreams. Then Pat hears Dom talking in the night and sees a goblin-boy peering down from the bunk above him. The harrowing series of events that follows convinces Pat that he’s losing his brother: Dom becomes possessed by a 10-year-old boy stuck in a gray fog that’s neither this world nor the next, endlessly searching for his twin, a soldier who died in the trenches of World War I. Pat’s narration is marked by vivid descriptions and consistently polished, well-paced prose: “Yesterday morning, I’d had a brother. I’d had a best friend. He’d been fun. He’d been interesting: my slow-burn, articulate counterweight. Now I was lopsided, a boat with one paddle, rowing frantically and spinning in a slow, maddening circle around the space that should have been him.” The otherworldly goings-on are grounded in the family lives of the village their Nan grew up in, adding intriguing nuances to the psychological drama.
A gripping, highly original ghost story. (Fantasy. 12 & up)