Book Review: “The Accident Season” by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Accio Book!

Published: 2 July 2015
Review copy from NetGalley

BEWARE! This story will creep under your skin, make you fall in love, and won’t leave your thoughts. The Accident Season is a danger-laden trip through a family’s unspoken fears. With the sense that peril and pain is around every corner, I was utterly gripped and had to keep reading even with a distinct sense of unease. Filled to the brim with secrets, hidden love, and dark pasts – you never quite know where you stand with Cara and her family. Not quite contemporary, not quite fantasy, this story tiptoes the borders of genre like a girl balancing on a slippery log over a fast-moving river. Danger! Don’t ignore the signs. Buy this now, and you will be absolutely swept away! A five-lightning-bolt read that you’ll be sorry to miss.

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?”

This book reads like a contemporary classic in the making. Fowley-Doyle’s vivid descriptions are completely unforgettable. As Cara’s life gets more and more out of her control, you fall head first into this brilliant, dark, sexy and gloriously creepy story. The Accident Season is the kind of book where scenes just get stuck in your head forever like snapshots.

My favorite aspect of the book was the slow unspooling of reality and the fae world. The protagonists exist in a space where the impossible happens on a daily basis. Cara pretends not to see the dangers around her, while her sister Alice sees them but stubbornly walks along her lonely path. Best friend Bea has always had an edge of free spirited fierceness that draws her to Cara and her family. Step-brother Sam knows there’s something out there, but he’s unprepared for the harsh truths. And they’re all held together by the paranoid presence of their long-suffering mother, whose fears are born of love but can be unwelcome and smothering.

This is a clever and intriguing hook that will keep you guessing. It reminded me of a Susan Hill novel, where a growing sense of wrongness infiltrates every sentence. It is Final Destination meets The Woman in Black via Harry and Hermione’s trip to Godric’s Hollow. The hairs will be standing up on the back of your neck.

Cara is obsessed by the mystery of secret keeper Elsie. Be prepared to check your photos obsessively to make sure that Elsie isn’t in them. Elsie’s presence creeps into every space in Cara and Alice’s lives, the haunting spectre of secrets held deep at the heart of the novel. She is a terrifyingly innocent flicker in the corner of your eye. I feel no shame in saying she gave me the shivers.

Fowley-Doyle’s teenagers are full of wild feelings and passions that get them into the tightest scrapes, furthered by their vivid imagination and fantasies. From the Black Cat and Whisky Ball, to secret kisses, to the trip and stumble through a life that literally throws the book at your head, you will want to join these kids in their adventures and then run far, far away.

I also loved the setting in Galway, Ireland. It felt refreshing to experience the lives of teens outside of the stereotypical English or American landscape. These teenagers are a little wild, a little rebellious, but completely relatable. Their mixed up relationships are full of passion and desperate desire. It lent credence to the otherworldliness of their exploits to this outsider. The dark elements of the story aren’t all wrapped up in the freakish Fae mystery but on the real life hurts and abuses that exist and are experienced by far too many people. Fowley-Doyle’s clever unpicking of these events will leave you with a desperate need to reread with fresh eyes. It’s one of the best accounts of domestic disasters I have ever read and an excellent discussion starter.

The enchanting twisty turny plot set against this backdrop of bleak grabbing onto fun when you can is certainly one that will make you catch your breath. When the Black Cat and Whisky Ball is in full swing, I dare you to attend the most unmissable Halloween party in town. It’s frightfully fun.

A beautiful and gripping book, full of secrets that will play on your mind long after the final page. Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Henry James, and Holly Black.

Make sure you pick up a copy; you won’t regret it.